Mushroom & Pea Risotto with Homemade Crab Stock

Sunday afternoon I found myself staring over the shoulder of two friends, anxiously awaiting a taste of the meat they were ripping from the shell of a Dungeness crab.

“You’re not throwing those shells out, are you?”

I asked as though I would have done otherwise. Then, this slipped out of my mouth: “Those would make a great stock.”

I probably heard that on The Food Network.

Truth be told, I’ve never made a real stock–let alone one of seafood. Laura called my bluff: “What would you do with the stock?” She then scooped out the “crab butter” and set it aside, excited to hear what I would do with it.

“Not sure. A risotto, maybe?” It sure as hell sounded like I knew what I was talking about. But like the stock, I had no experience with risotto; it’s a dish I’ve been taught to fear.

I thought about the flavors, consulted a few friends, and decided on making a mushroom and pea risotto. Here’s the result:

It’s good. It’s really good, actually–rich, creamy, with a unique depth from the stock. It’s a delicate comfort food.

I’d post the recipe, but I didn’t create it. Instead, I turned to trusted sources, and adapted as needed:

For the stock, I followed Hank Shaw’s recipe. I only had the body from one crab (the recipe calls for four or five Dungeness), so I mixed in the tomalley before the adding the shells to the pot. I appreciate’s Hank’s instruction on simmering–I would have boiled the shit out of the broth to concentrate the flavors, but he explains that doesn’t work, and it creates a cloudy stock.

With the crab at a simmer, I started on Elise Bauer’s recipe for mushroom risotto. I used a mix of shitake, chanterelle, and black trumpet mushrooms–that’s what looked best at the market. (I also used this mix in the stock.) I switched chicken stock for the crab, and used a sauvignon blanc leftover from the stock. If I could do it over, that’s the one ingredient I’d change; the bottle I had was a little too bright and citrusy for this recipe.

I also added about half a cup of fresh peas to the risotto. I wanted them crispy, so I tossed them in at the end, with the Parmesan.

That’s it. A little simmering, a lot of stirring, and a desire to test myself. There’s room for improvement, but I’d proudly share a bowl. If I had any left.

6 Responses to “Mushroom & Pea Risotto with Homemade Crab Stock”

  1. Indrani
    February 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Sounds delish – and I never knew how to spell ‘tomalley’ 🙂

  2. Dana
    February 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm #


  3. Nicole
    February 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Good for you! I’ve never made any kind of seafood stock, but I’ve been making chicken stock like crazy this year and have a bunch of beef and veal bones in the freezer so that I can give beef stock a try soon. I also have chicken feet in the freezer, which I got from Michael Corcoran at the Vineyard market last time I bought some chicken. I emailed ahead and he saved the feet from all the chickens he brought to market that day. The feet add more body to the stock and makes it more nutritious. Page River Bottom Farm will also sell them as well as beef bones for stock. As for risotto, I made a good one recently with kale (and chicken stock, of course). Mushrooms would have been a good addition.

    • james
      February 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Nicole, I’m so inspired by you’re commitment to unprocessed foods! I don’t want to even think about what goes into most stocks to make them shelf-stable.

      I wouldn’t have thought to add chicken feet for flavor (and nutrition) – I’ll have have to give that a try. Now you have me thinking about the venison leg bones I have in the freezer…

      • Nicole
        February 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

        You can actually make the stock from nothing but chicken feet (, but I figure I’ll just toss a few in with the leftover over bones, wings and backs that I normally use. Now that I’ve gotten into the habit of buying whole chickens instead of pieces, making stock has just become part of the process. If we break down the chicken for individual pieces, I just put the back and wings in a freezer bag to save for stock. Then as we eat the chicken, I save all the bones and just throw them in the same bag. I usually make stock once I have bones from two chickens. I just toss in some onion, celery, and carrot, fill a big pot with water and let everything simmer all day or overnight. I don’t bother salting it at all and sometimes I’ll flavor with herbs and sometimes not. I freeze it in ziplock bags in different portion sizes. Now we always have stock on hand and I use it for all kinds of things (and sometimes just season it and drink it). Besides tasting better than store-bought stuff, it’s really really good for you. The longer you cook it, the more minerals, etc are drawn out of the bones.

  4. Claire
    February 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Wow, looks yummy! Have always steered clear of homemade risotto and just used frozen from Trader Joe’s – but now will give it a try.

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