Risotto. You either love it or you hate it. I love it, but there is a strict condition, It must be well made. I am not a traditionalist, I like my rice cooked – not over-done and stodgy, but not nutty to the point of unpleasantness either. I like butter added at the end but not in huge quantities and I believe firmly that there is no place for cream in a risotto, generally speaking.
All good risottos are about three things and they are all fundamental. Stock, Rice and care. Let’s start with the stock. For this particular risotto were going to use a bit of nice fish stock from the freezer or freshly male one and then we will pimp it up by sautéing the smoked shells of the prawns with a little olive oil and a pinch of smoked paprika, white wine is added and then cooked out and then these shells and their residues are added to the simmering fish stock as a final layer of deliciousness.
Rice, you need a short grained rice. That could be Carnaroli, Arborio or even pudding rice at a pinch but my absolute favourite is to use Sushi rice. That is one of my best kept secrets and so please do keep it as a secret of your own – it makes a lighter risotto as all the powdery starch has been polished away at the rice mill and, well, never mind the technical points – it works very, very well and has the happy side effect of annoying any traditionalists nearby immensely. The care is all about how you cook a risotto. You can have as much gay abandon kicking about the kitchen as you like right up until you add the rice to the risotto pan, at that point you are committed, you have to cook the risotto, you have to season it, you have to care about it, you have to stir it, nurture it, taste it – make the effort, it is more than worth it.
750ml good fish stock
400g smoked Prawns – peeled, shells reserved
200g sushi rice
1 very small courgette
1 few cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
A sprig of thyme
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley
A glass or two of dry white wine
A few good glugs of light olive oil
Salt and pepper
A tiny drizzle of your very, very best olive oil
To start, we must finish our stock and to do that you need to carefully peel your prawns.
In a large frying pan heat a little light oil and add the shells, fry them hard until they won’t take anymore then turn down the heat, add a glass of the dry vino and simmer until the raw acidity vanishes from the aroma. Add this to the other fish stock you have and allow that to come to a slow simmer and keep it there.
Finley dice the shallot and the garlic, but save half the garlic to one side for use later on. Strip the thyme leaves from the stem and chuck the stem in the stock pot.
Slowly heat a casserole pan (Wide and flat but with sides…) add add the rest of the light olive oil, slowly sweat the shallots, half the garlic and the thyme in the oil with a little salt and pepper until soft and starting to smell lovely. Add the rice and half the butter and cook for a few minutes until the rice is all coated in a little fat and lightly toasted. Now, add the other glass of dry white and again cook out until the acidity dissolves from the aroma. Now, you may start adding the stock, this happens mostly a little at the time except this first batch, you want to initially add enough stock to just about come up to the top of the rice in the pan – you will need to stir it a lot from now on, not constantly but a bit.
Season the rice, add another ladle of stock and keep the risotto simmering until it looks like it needs another ladle of stock. Repeat, repeat and repeat again until all the rice almost but not quite cooked.
Now, it’s going to get complicated here, you need to heat a separate pan you know you can trust and add half the remaining butter to it, roughly chop half your prawns and the all of them (whole and chopped) to the pan, along with the remaining garlic and briefly sauté them to get them going. Turn off the heat on both pans – we are nearly there. Chop up the few cherry tomatoes and add these at this point also.
Add the prawns to the risotto and and the last of the butter, half a scoop of stock if you have some left and a dash of water if not – stir, gently, season., taste, season again, add a little lemon juice and some very finely grated zest (Just a small amount) chop and stir in the parsley.
Scoop into bowls and drizzle with a little of the very best oil……