Capital Chefs: Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Risotto Frutti di Mare at Bibiana’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Risotto can be like a wild beast in the kitchen. If you don’t cook it long enough, it’s like eating little rock pellets. If you don’t stir it, you will end up with a gloppy mess. But in reality, risotto is not all that hard to make and make it well. So with that in mind, don’t get hung up on the idea that you have to babysit this pot of rice grains for a while. Besides, you’re cooking with wine…pour yourself a glass.

After the jump you’ll find Nick Stefanelli’s recipe for risotto frutti di mare. It’s a light risotto with the lemon juice, white wine and seafood–perfect for summertime. Keep in mind Stefanelli’s advice that this recipe (as most do) depends on the freshness of the seafood, and don’t get too hung up on what seafood to include in the risotto if something isn’t available at your grocery store. Again, Stefanelli would remind you that “frutti di mare” means “fruits of the sea,” stick with firm fish and shellfish for the risotto and you can’t go wrong.

Photo courtesy of
‘Lemon and seafood for risotto’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Nick Stefanelli’s Risotto Frutti di Mare (Serves 4)

1 pound of Carnaroli risotto
1/2 pound of calamari cleaned and cut into rings
40 pieces of clams and mussles
25 pieces of shrimp, peeled cleaned and deveined
1/2 pound of firm white fish cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 lemons
A bunch of fresh soft herbs (basil, parsley, chives, dill)
Fish and/or shell fish stock
500 ml white wine (author’s note: that’s about 2 cups)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound of butter
1 onion cut into a fine dice

Photo courtesy of
‘Seafood for risotto frutti di mare’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Photo courtesy of
‘Stirring risotto’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Chef’s note: The most important part of this risotto’s success is the freshness of the seafood. If there is another product that is fresher always take it to become a part of the rice. It is “frutti di mare” which when translated means fruits of the sea, so there is no wrong way to go on this.

Also if you are feeling adventurous, you can make a shellfish/fish stock out of all of the fish bones and shrimp shells and heads.

1. First take a large heavy bottom pot (similar to a Dutch oven) and place over medium heat.
2. Add half the butter and oil and when it begins to foam add the onions.
3. Cook until they are soft and translucent. Once soft, add the rice and toast until the grains become warm and translucent. Add a little salt so that it will incorporate into the grain as it cooks.
4. Then add the wine and completely cook out, constantly stirring. Once the wine has reduced, add enough stock to cover the rice, constantly stirring, repeat this three more times (this process should take about 12 minutes).
5. After the third round of stock, check the texture of the rice. It should have a slight crunch, but not too firm. If it’s still too crunchy, add a little more stock and cook and re-taste.
6. Once the rice is ready, add the fish with a little stock to cook (should take about 3 minutes).
7. Then remove from the heat, add the zest of the lemon, the herbs, the rest of the butter, and olive oil.
8. Stir in and taste, then adjust with salt and lemon juice and serve!

Photo courtesy of
‘Risotto Frutti di Mare at Bibiana’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at)

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