Chili Lobster Risotto 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Top Tomato 2013 Aug 14, 2013

From Dacula, Ga., resident Peter Stegagno: "Not much of a story here. I submitted a lobster risotto in tomato sauce recipe earlier and thought twice about the 'originality' of the recipe. So, I took the recipe on a Southwestern vacation and came up with this. Actually, I have made something like this using linguine, but I’m a risotto freak and this is what came out."

The dish is a bit of a production; allow a generous 75 minutes or so. It's best to make the recipe just before serving, although the lobsters and broth could be done an hour or two in advance.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 3 quarts water
  • Four 1 1/4-pound lobsters, preferably from Maine
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped, plus 1 sliced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, plus 1 clove thinly sliced
  • 10 tablespoons silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest and the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro, plus more for optional garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded then minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups raw arborio rice


Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Prepare a large bowl of cold water and ice cubes.

Add the lobsters and cover; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until their shells are bright red. Use tongs to transfer to the ice-water bath just until they are cool enough to handle. Reserve the cooking liquid, some of which will be used for the risotto. Keep it warm over low heat.

Use a lobster cracker and pick to remove the cooked meat from the lobster tails, claws, knuckles, bodies and legs. Discard the center vein within each tail; try to keep half the claw meat intact, as this will be used to garnish each portion of risotto. Chop the remaining claw meat and other lobster meat into bite-size chunks.

Reserve the shells and bodies; rinse away any green tomalley and gills. Return the cleaned, spent shells/bodies to the pot of cooking water. Increase the heat to high; once it returns to a boil, cook for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low. Use a Chinese skimmer or slotted spatula to remove and discard the bodies and shells.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in one-third of the minced shallots and all the minced garlic; cook for 1 to 2 minutes and do not allow the ingredients to pick up any color. Add 4 tablespoons of the tequila and all the lime juice. Once the liquids start to bubble, stir in the crema. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or just long enough for the mixture to thicken a bit. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Taste and season with salt as needed. Remove from the heat.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced shallot and stir to coat. Cook until lightly caramelized, then add the sliced garlic, habanero and 1/2 teaspoon of the lime zest, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 minute, then add all but 8 or so of the cherry tomato halves. Cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; the tomato halves should break down a bit. Fold in the chunks of lobster meat then remove from the heat. Season lightly with salt.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining minced shallots and stir to coat; cook until translucent, then add the remaining teaspoon of lime zest.

Stir in the rice; cook for about 2 minutes, then add the remaining tequila, stirring constantly, until it has been absorbed/evaporated. Add the reserved warm lobster broth, a cup at a time, stirring often and cooking until each addition has been incorporated. You will not use all the broth; the risotto will take about 25 minutes. The grains should be creamy and slightly al dente.

Fold in the tomato-lobster meat mixture lobster; add broth to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.

If desired, dunk the reserved, intact claw meat in the remaining lobster broth to warm them up. Reheat the tequila-lime-crema sauce if needed.

Divide the risotto among individual wide, shallow bowls. Drizzle the sauce over the top, then garnish each portion with a claw, cilantro, if desired, and the reserved tomato halves. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

From Peter Stegagno of Dacula, Ga.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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