Thursday, 21 July 2011

Recipe/Ricetta - Risotto ai Frutti di Mare

How do you like your risotti? In Venexia, most people have it like a minestra (soup) - lots of liquid but very velvety, due to the milk which is often added to it. It is also cooked in stock from the start, which can make it a little lower in fat than in other northern regions. However, I actually prefer mine a little more solid, and creamy, like they make in Piedmont. I found that when they were young, my children liked Piedmontese-style risotto better than they liked Venexiana - I suppose it was easier for them to eat!

For me, risotto is almost comfort food, and like polenta, it is well worth standing at the stove for what can seem like an endless amount of time (in reality, 15-20 mins!). I find that listening to music helps a lot. By listening to music, I do in fact mean, singing along to it! It is possible to start the risotto off on the stove-top and then transfer it to the oven - certainly it makes a perfectly acceptable dish; however, I do feel I have more control over it on the top of the stove. Besides, it's not so easy to photograph the various stages of its making when it's in the oven! Also, by stirring the rice quite vigorously, you release the starch, which helps to give the risotto its creamy, velvety texture.

So without further ado, let's make risotto!

Approximate nutritional values per person:
Calories 516
Carbs 56g
Fat 18g
Sodium 204mg
Sugar 1g
Protein 33g
(Please note that these are based on the ingredients I use - your own may be slightly different)

For two people:
200g scallops
100g squid - cut into rings or slices
120g carnaroli or arborio rice
.5 tbsp olive oil
75g onion - sliced thinly
20g butter
25g Parmigiano Reggiano
400ml stock (I used one Kallo Organic very low salt vegetable cube but you could use fish stock instead)
10g flat leaf parsley - chopped
A few sprays of olive oil
20g garlic, smashed
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and then add the onion, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the rice, and stir to ensure all the grains are coated, and cook for a minute over a medium heat.
2. Turn the heat down low and add a couple of ladles of stock, stir the rice again, and allow to absorb the stock. You might need to give it a little stir from time to time but don't do it too much as this releases starch, which will make it stick more! If you use a diffuser, this will greatly reduce the chance of the rice sticking. It will take a little longer to cook but it's worth it.
3. Keep adding the stock, a couple of ladles at a time, each time allowing it to become absorbed before adding the next lot.
4. When you're down to your last ladleful, spray a heavy pan with olive oil (a cast iron skillet is really useful here), turn the heat to about medium, and add the smashed garlic. Stir occasionally, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. In fact, it needs to only be a pale golden brown. Spray with more oil if necessary.
5. Remove the garlic and stir it into the rice. The risotto should almost be finished now. The rice should have absorbed all of the liquid, and should be al dente ( you know about this - it's how we like pasta to be cooked!). If the rice is cooked, turn off the heat, if not, add a little more liquid and test again in a few minutes. You don't want it to be really soft, like a rice pudding though (carnaroli is the least likely to overcook)!

6. Add the scallops to the skillet, turn up the heat and sear on each side. They will only need five minutes or so to cook, so make sure you do this as close to the risotto being finished as you can. 

7. Assuming your rice is cooked, add the chopped parsley (reserving a little for garnish) and Parmigiano. Stir in.
8. Add the scallops as soon as they are cooked, and stir into the rice.
9. Cook the squid over a high heat; these literally cook in a minute or two (any longer and you risk them being rubbery). As soon as they are done, add them to the risotto, stirring in as before.

10. Add the butter - beat it in as fast as you can! This makes the risotto creamy and glossy.
11. Serve immediately into warmed dishes, sprinkle some freshly cracked black pepper over the top of each one, add a generous drizzle of lemon juice, and garnish with the rest of the parsley.
12. Serve with a simple green salad.

Buon appetito!

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