Shellfish Risotto and Fresh Italian White Wines for Mother's Day

Grand Award-winning chef Michael White's great recipe, plus our list of wines, make it easy to show Mom that you care
May 1, 2009

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 10, and it's a great opportunity to cook something special for any and all of the moms in your life. To that end, chef Michael White of the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning Alto restaurant in New York has shared his recipe for shellfish risotto, or Risotto alla Pescatora, which he describes as a "lighter, brunch-style risotto, suitable for spring's warmer temperatures, that you could serve at any time of the day." To accompany the dish, we've provided a list of recently rated northern Italian whites to match.

Whether you're honoring your mother, grandmother or wife, or you're a mother yourself, we wish you a happy Mother's Day!

Risotto alla Pescatora

Recipe by chef Michael White of Alto

• 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 cups Arborio rice
• 2 cups dry white wine, preferably a dry white from northern Italy
• 4-5 cups chicken stock, kept warm on stove
• 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
• 1/2 pound Manila, littleneck or cherrystone clams, scrubbed
• 1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
• 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1/4 cup squid (bodies only), cleaned, split lengthwise and cut crosswise into thin slices
• 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for sprinkling
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Make the risotto: In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until hot. Stir in the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to coat thoroughly with the oil, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until the grains look opaque. Pour in 1 cup wine and cook over high heat until the liquid is evaporated, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add in the stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, so that the rice stays wet but is never completely covered with liquid. Stir continuously.

Once the rice absorbs the stock in the pan, add more by the half cupful, stirring constantly to make sure the liquid is absorbed before adding more stock. Be patient and stir consistently; keep the heat on gentle. You should see steam when you add the stock, but the rice should not stick. Continue cooking until the rice is tender but still has a tiny hard spot in the center, about 17 to 19 minutes. The amount of liquid can vary, but you should reserve 1/3 cup of warm stock to loosen the risotto before serving. Once al dente, remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoon of remaining extra-virgin olive oil and the final 1/2 cup of stock. Cover with aluminum foil or a lid and keep warm over very low heat while you sauté the seafood.

2. Sauté the seafood: In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, mussels, shrimp and squid, cover and cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked and the clams and mussels have opened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Discard any shellfish that do not open.

3. Plate the risotto: Divide the risotto among 4 bowls, shaking or tapping each dish lightly to make sure the risotto spreads evenly in the bottom. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the shellfish onto the risotto.

4. Finish the dish: Pour the remaining cup of wine into the pan that you used to cook the shellfish, and add the tomatoes, parsley and red pepper flakes. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and cook, mashing the tomatoes a bit, until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the sauce over the shellfish and risotto. Top with a little parsley and final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately. Serves 4.


ATTEMS Pinot Grigio Collio 2007 Score: 90 | $19
A full-bodied style with lots of character, from peach tart to lemon seed to mineral. Crisp and lively. Drink now. 12,900 cases made. —J.S.

CANTINA TERLANO Pinot Bianco Alto Adige 2007 Score: 89 | $21
A minerally, fresh white, with lemon and green apple character, a medium-to-full body and a crisp, clean finish. Wonderful subtlety and freshness. Drink now. 5,000 cases made. —J.S.

CANTINA GIRLAN Pinot Grigio Alto Adige Filadonna 2007 Score: 88 | $16
Mineral and pear skin aromas, with lemon peel, follow through to a medium body, with good acidity and a long finish. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. —J.S.

S. MICHAEL-EPPAN Pinot Bianco Alto Adige Schulthauser 2007 Score: 88 | $20
Plenty of floral, apple and banana aromas and flavors follow through to a medium-to-full body, with good fruit and a clean finish. Drink now. 16,700 cases made. —J.S.

COLTERENZIO Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 2007 Score: 87 | $17
Very fresh and minerally, with lots of lemon zest and hints of lime. Medium-bodied, with very crisp acidity and a steely, clean finish. Drink now. 12,000 cases made. —J.S.

BOLLINI Pinot Grigio Trentino 2007 Score: 86 | $15
This nicely balanced white offers apple and light honey aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, with a crisp, refreshing finish. Drink now. 183,330 cases made. —J.C.

COLLAVINI Pinot Grigio Collio Villa Canlungo Black Label 2007 Score: 86 | $19
Baked apples, with hints of minerals and spicy pie crust. Medium-bodied, with fresh, spicy flavors that linger. This is a new, select version of Pinot Grigio Villa Canlungo. Drink now. 12,000 cases made.

CANTINA TRAMIN Pinot Bianco Alto Adige 2008 Score: 86 | $15
Aromas of lemons, apple skin and unripe pineapple. Medium body, with a good core of fruit and a clean, fresh finish. Drink now. 7,500 cases made. —J.S.

PLOZNER Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli 2007 Score: 85 | $18
A friendly Pinot Grigio, with apple, honey and lemon character. Medium-bodied, with a clean finish. Drink now. 12,500 cases made. —J.S.

Cooking Holidays / Celebrations Mothers' Day Italy Recipes

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