Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s
Ingredients for two people
1 Medium onion (red or white, as you prefer. I use red.)
120gm Squid or squid rings
120gm Prawns – your favourite type but huge, meaty king prawns work well in this. Thaw them before use.
6 Largish mushrooms and one medium mushroom, or equivalent.
6 to 8 Frozen asparagus spears
150 gm Arborio (risotto) rice
400ml Vegetable Stock
100ml White wine
1/5 Teaspoon white pepper
1/5 Teaspoon ground dried lime peel (or some lime zest & juice, to taste)
Butter and olive oil
This is a proper risotto and, after you start adding the stock to the rice, requires standing at the stove for 10 – 15 minutes. You can’t leave it for more than about 30 seconds! It has to be Arborio rice – nothing else makes a proper risotto although you can get a rough approximation to it with other types and it will still taste good.
If the stock you’re using doesn’t already have enough in it for your taste, add some salt to it. Do not try to adjust the seasoning once the risotto is cooked – you’ll just get “pockets” which are salty. You may need to experiment a couple of times to determine the right amount of salt to add for your own tastes. If there is no salt already in the stock, I’d start with 1/4 teaspoon.
Chop the onion very finely and set it to sweat in butter in a 20 cm saucepan. Add the white pepper and lime powder and stir in.
Thaw the asparagus. You can use fresh but the frozen stuff tends to have quite a strong, coarse flavour which mellows and survives cooking better.
Cut the asaparagus into 1/2 – 1 cm lengths (I use kitchen scissors) and fry it in a little butter for 5 minutes.
Whilst it’s cooking…
Chop the largish mushrooms into pieces of a similar size to the asparagus pieces. Slice the medium sized mushroom very finely and chop the slices into very small pieces. Fry the larger pieces of mushroom in a little butter until they’re about 1/2 cooked. Don’t cook the finely chopped one at all.
Cut the squid into strips or, if using squid rings, open the rings into strips. Now cut the strips into short lengths of 1 – 2cm.
Once the asparagus and mushrooms are sufficiently cooked, turn them out into a bowl (the same bowl is fine) and keep warm.
Once the onion is translucent, add more butter and a good splash of olive oil, for a total of about 20gm, to the pan. Turn the heat to high. Just before it’s going to start smoking (the butter will start to brown a little), add the rice and stir vigourously to coat all the grains. Continue to fry the rice over a high heat for a minute then turn down the heat. Start a timer for 5 minutes. Add a dribble of the stock directly on the rice and quickly stir it in before it gets a chance to evaporate. Immediately it has gone, add another dribble and repeat several times until the mixture has cooled a bit & there’s no sizzling when you add liquid!
Now that the pan has cooled down somewhat you can add the finely chopped mushrooms and quickly stir them in. Then add the squid and stir that in. Add ther lime zest & juice if used. You can now start to add the stock in larger dribbles, stirring each time until it has been mostly adsorbed by the rice.
When the timer goes off, add the other mushrooms, asparagus and prawns. Stir in. Set the timer for another 5 minutes. Add the wine to the remaining stock and continue adding it a bit at a time until the timer goes off again. Try and add the stock so that it’s all been added by the time the alarm goes off for the second time (i.e. after 10 mins total risotto’ing time). At this point check that (a) the squid is cooked – no translucent bits left – and (b) the rice is cooked – there should be no really solid bits at the heart of each grain but it should still have a bit of “bite”. If either of these is not the case, carry on stirring for a few minutes until they are. If the rice is not quite cooked yet and you have stock left, continue to add it as before. Serve as soon as it’s ready. If the rice is not quite cooked and there is no stock left, use some hot water instead.
Depending on the actual rice you use, the timings may be different – some arborio rice seems to need more like 20 mins to cook, even 25. If you find that, the first time the squid will be overcooked and a bit rubbery although still edible. The next time, obviously, add it (and the other ingredients added during the cooking) appropriately later. Equally obviously, find a brand of Arborio rice that you like & have found the right timing for and then stick to it!
By the way: the “1”s are the asparagus & strips of squid; the “0”s are the mushrooms & (curled-up) prawns.