An American classic reinterpreted. I don’t claim to cook authentic Cajun, but I do love those funky flavors. Why not combine two winners, Bayou cuisine and Italian risotto and see what happens? Make this for 6 to 8 or more as it is a good deal of work. But worth it.
Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells for stock. Refrigerate the shrimp along with the scallops. For the shrimp stock, put the reserved shells in a saucepan with water to cover. Add 2 of the bay leaves, 4 of the thyme sprigs, the peppercorns, and the reserved trimmings from the onions and celery. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour. Strain.
Melt the ham and pancetta or bacon drippings in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and celery and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining thyme and bay leaves, the tomato and garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the chicken and shrimp stocks in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and hold the stocks at a simmer.
Heat half the olive oil or butter in a large deep saucepan over low heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat with the oil or butter, until opaque, 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, quickly sauté the shrimp and scallops in the remaining olive oil over high heat in a large sauté pan or skillet. A minute or two before the rice is perfectly cooked, add the shellfish, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook a few minutes longer until the rice is al dente in the center and creamy on the outside. Add more stock for a slightly soupy consistency, if you like. Serve in big bowls.
© 1992 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.