Some Food is Too Good

February 1 – February 7, 2021

Lucali Salad for Sunday dinner

Monday:                   More Rigatoni with Lamb Ragu – dinner with Andrew

Tuesday:                   Winter Vegetable Gargure (stew)

Wednesday:            Dinner as guests of Chris and Ann, with Tim and Father Drew

Thursday:                 Buttermilk Fried Chicken Drumsticks

Friday:                       Roasted Shrimp with Grits

Saturday:                  Crab Meat Risotto

Sunday:                     Chili, Skillet Cornbread

Another way to phrase this week’s title is – “Some people are too greedy.”  It being Lent, I apologize in advance to all of those bound and determined to fast and have just one full meal per day.  You might want to hold off on this recipe until Easter.

On Friday and Saturday, last week, we cooked dinners that I could not stop eating.  Beez does not have this problem.

The Shrimp and Grits was based on a recipe from Michael Ruhlman.  Ruhlman was a friend of the too-soon-departed Tony Bourdain, and appeared with him on several of Tony’s programs.  He has published a useful cookbook with some great recipes – Ruhlman’s Twenty.  In that book is a fine recipe for Shrimp with Grits.  In my experience, the only way to stop eating this particular dish is to finish it completely, to expire, or to have someone fend you off with a shot gun.

And on Saturday – this will come as no surprise to the many Ina fans who follow this blog – we used an Ina Garten recipe for Crab Meat Risotto that should be fed to anyone who has no appetite and kept away from anyone, like me, whose appetite is tyrannical.

But in this fallen world it is usually the lucky, well-fed people like myself – people who, if you denied them any food but allowed them water, would not starve in less than a month-and-a-half – who cook and enjoy these irresistible dishes.  It is Lent, however, and I am determined to walk away from second helpings.  Which means, I suppose, that I can no longer refer to these foods as irresistible, although I resist giving up that adjective since I have to write about food.  It’s all very confusing.

But the recipe below is not at all confusing, and if you don’t cook this in the near future, you are confusing moderation with shoddy cooking.

Of the two recipes mentioned above, we’re going to share the risotto, for two reasons.  First, son Andrew gave me excessive praise for this dish.  Second, I amended Ruhlman’s recipe by roasting the shrimp instead of poaching them in butter.  Poaching in butter is not something SWMBO would appreciate and, since I appreciate SWMBO, I don’t do it.  If you do, please invite me over some time.

Fresh Crab and Pea Risotto

(adapted from Ina Garten, Modern Comfort Food)

Timing          55 minutes – a bit less, if you’re a particularly dab-hand at prep

Ingredients:                                                          Feeds 6

1 lb. good lump crabmeat (note:  buy premium, if you can – it’s a splurge, but you won’t end up with pieces of cartilage which are hard to avoid in sub-premium, even if you pick through the crabmeat)   Further note:  We inherited this crabmeat, by the agency of Diane, when Hoddy and Mere left for Florida without cleaning out their refrigerator.

1 ½ cups Italian Arborio rice (this is important – you need a hard rice that can absorb lots of liquid without getting mushy)

6-8 cups seafood stock (Ina uses canned Bar Harbor Seafood Stock which is sold, in our area, at Whole Foods – I used the brand at Giant Eagle (I forget the name).

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup small-diced shallots

½ cup chopped fennel (core the fennel before chopping)

½ cup seed and small diced poblano pepper (this is such a great flavor and poblanos are now available at most supermarkets – if you have to buy a whole bag of poblano, use the rest for chili)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon thyme leaves (fresh)

½ teaspoon saffron threads (these give a bit of flavor as well as a Buddhist’s robe tinge to the risotto – spectacular color)

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (we used a bit more)

1 cup dry, white wine

½ cup crème fraiche

Minced fresh chives and grated lemon zest for serving

Kosher salt and ground black pepper


Heat the stock and keep at a very low simmer in a saucepan

Defrost the peas

Chop the vegetables, pick the thyme leaves

Measure out the other ingredients


In a Dutch oven, heat the butter and oil over medium-high (or a touch below, if you have a high btu burner)

When the initial bubbling of the butter dies down, add the shallots, fennel and poblano pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Now add the rice and stir to coat the grains well with butter and oil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, add the wine and cook, stirring constantly (not frantically) for 5 minutes until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed.

Now add a ladle of the simmering stock (1/2 to ¾ cup) to the rice and cook until absorbed.  Keep adding the stock in this way and stirring from time to time, until the rice is al dente – this will take about 30 minutes.

When the rice is cooked, stir in the crème fraiche, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.

Now fold in the crabmeat and the peas and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes until warmed through.  Add enough stock (be careful) to make the risotto moist and creamy and serve hot in large, shallow (pre-heated) bowls and sprinkle with chives and lemon zest.


Say a prayer to St. Anthony (of the desert, not Padua) to help you avoid having seconds and thirds.

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