Saffron Snapper Risotto

In honor of Shrove Tuesday, a day where one is meant to indulge in all the butter, fat, and good things to be given up for lent, I give you the perfect indulgent supper…

Snapper and Saffron Risotto!

A creamy blend of rice, butter, white wine, and chicken stock melt a pile of parmesan cheese to give you the silkiest base for any additional flavors. Inspired by the fragrance and flavors of the south of France, this particular risotto accessorizes with saffron, roasted butternut squash, crispy pancetta and sage, and flaky red snapper- it’s a wonderful blend of wintery richness, summery smells, and an ideal mid-season pick me up.

Enjoy it with a crisp white burgundy or at the very least a glass of chardonnay and celebrate a feast-ive evening…

Snapper and Saffron Risotto
Serves 4, or 6 appetizer portions

4 red snapper fillets about 7 oz each
1 rounded cup (1 1/3 cups) aborio rice
1 large banana shallot, diced or sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 generous pinch, about a teaspoon +, saffron
1/3 cup white wine
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 butternut squash, cubed (brunoise)
1 cup diced pancetta
16 picked sage leaves
1 + cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare the butternut squash, chopping and cutting the flesh into small cubes. Place the squash on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper and a few swigs of olive oil. Roast in the oven until tender, 30 minutes. Set aside while you prep the fish and make the risotto.

2. To prep the fish insure that all bones have been removed from the fillets and using a very sharp fish knife or pairing knife, make slices in only the skin of the fish being sure not to cut into the flesh. This will allow the skin to cook and crisp without curling and shrinking the fillet.
3. Place the fillet on a dry baking sheet and leave in the fridge uncovered to dry out the skin while you make the risotto.
4. In a large casserole pot or dutch oven, add a small amount of oil to the pan and cook on medium high till shinning. Add the sage leaves in in 3 batches and let crisp for just 1 minute. Let drain on a paper towel and reserve. Then add the diced pancetta and let cook till caramelized and quite crispy (about 4 minutes). Drain on another paper towel and reserve.

5. In a small sauce pot, add all the chicken stock and, covered with a lid, heat on low on a back burner for the risotto.
6. Pour off any excess oil from the searing pan, being sure to reserving and brown bits of flavor. Melt the 3 tablespoons butter and add the shallots. Bring the heat to medium and allow the shallots to cook until colored and caramelized but not burnt. Then add in the minced garlic clove, stir once, and add in the rice. Stir the rice, increasing the the heat a tad, and then wait for the rice to begin to sizzle and “sing.” (This pop and hissing sound means that the rice is toasting and ready for the liquid to be added).

7. Add the white wine (stand back as this will create a lot of steam) and let the alcohol burn off and wine reduce for a minute or two. Then add in all the saffron and stir. Add two ladles of the hot chicken stock to the rice and stir gently, and let the rice begin to absorb the liquid.

8. Keep watching the risotto as the liquid gets low add one ladle of stock in at a time, being sure to stir and coat all the rice and keep flavors combining.

You will need to continue doing this for approximately 20-25 minutes depending until the risotto gains the consistency of a thin meat sauce.

9. When it is almost there, raise the oven to 400 F and bring out the fish. Season with salt and pepper and olive oil and place in the upper 1/3 of the oven for 16-20 minutes, or until the fish is moist and flaky.

10. Taste the risotto to make sure the rice has reached al dente and then add the parmesan cheese and stir to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Add in the butternut squash and pancetta and stir to warm.

11. Serve 1-1/2 ladles of risotto in each large bowl, top with 1 red snapper and drizzle the fish with a little olive oil. garnish with the crispy sage leaves and enjoy.

A supper that will satisfy even the most staunch Shrove Tuesday traditionalists…

With lust,
Darcy Jones


  1. February 22, 2012 / 1:21 am

    A great way to kick off Lent – nothing like butter, cream and wine to kick off a few weeks of abstinence! Looks delicious.

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    August 10, 2014 / 5:46 am

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