Tuesday 21 November 2017

Three classic risotto recipes to help bring a taste of Italy into your home

Crab and chilli risotto
Crab and chilli risotto
Maxine Clarke's book, Risotto
Saffron risotto with parmesan, sage and ham
Roasted garlic risotto with goats' cheese and rosemary

Bring a taste of Italy to your table with these classic risotto recipes from acclaimed food Maxine Clarke

Crab and chilli risotto

Crab makes a delicious risotto, especially when speckled with red chilli. Although fresh crab is preferable, it's a bit fiddly to prepare and fishmongers sell frozen white and dark crab meat which is very acceptable for this recipe. I like to stir in the creamy dark meat at the end, but this may not be to all tastes. Serve topped with crab claws for a dramatic and tasty garnish.

Serves 4

You will need

About 1.5 litres hot seafood stock, fish stock or vegetable stock

100g unsalted butter

3 shallots, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

400g risotto rice

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 bay leaf

150ml dry white wine

250g fresh white crab meat (or frozen and thawed)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

4-8 crab claws, cooked and cracked

4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method

Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt half the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the shallots and celery. Cook gently for 5-7 minutes until soft and golden but not browned. Add the rice, chilli and bay leaf, stir until well coated with the butter, translucent and heated through. Pour in the wine and boil hard until it has reduced and almost disappeared. This will remove the taste of raw alcohol.

Begin adding the stock, a large ladleful at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking, so don't let the rice dry out - add more stock as necessary. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm. This should take 15-20 minutes depending on the type of rice used.

About 5 minutes before the rice is ready, stir in half the crab meat. When the rice is cooked, taste, season well and stir in the remaining butter. Remove the bay leaf. Fold in the remaining crab meat, being careful not to break up any lumps. Cover and let rest for a couple of minutes so the risotto can relax, then serve immediately, topped with the crab claws and lots of chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Saffron risotto with parmesan, sage and ham

A good risotto depends on good ingredients, so make sure you have a well-flavoured stock, good-quality ham and well-aged Parmesan (or Grana Padano) cheese.

Serves 2

You will need

600ml chicken stock, preferably home-made

40g butter

1 small onion or ½ medium onion, finely chopped

175g arborio or other Italian risotto rice

75ml dry white wine

A Parmesan rind (optional)

A small pinch (about ¼ tsp) saffron strands

1-2 tbsp jellied meat juices* (optional)

25g aged Parmesan, freshly grated, plus a few Parmesan shavings

2 tbsp olive oil

2-3 slices of prosciutto or Serrano ham, each torn into 3 pieces

8-10 fresh sage leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Bring the stock to the boil, then leave it simmering on a low heat.

Melt half the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook gently until soft, about 5 minutes. Tip in the rice, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the grains have turned opaque and are beginning to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, stir and let it bubble up and evaporate.

Add the Parmesan rind if you have one, then begin to add the hot stock, adding about a coffee cup at a time and allowing the liquid to be absorbed by the rice before you add the next lot. Cook, stirring regularly, until the rice begins to look creamy but still has some bite to it, about 20 minutes.

Pour the last bit of stock over the saffron and add to the risotto along with a couple of spoonfuls of jellied meat juices, if you have some. Turn off the heat, add the remaining butter and the grated Parmesan and stir. Cover the pan and let the flavours amalgamate for 2-3 minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the ham. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen paper. Fry the sage leaves in the same pan until crisp. Give the risotto a final stir, remove the Parmesan rind and season to taste. Serve in warm, shallow soup bowls and top with the crisp ham, sage leaves and a few shavings of Parmesan.

* What you want are the umami-rich meat juices which collect under the fat you pour off when you're cooking a chicken or a pork or veal joint.

Roasted garlic risotto with goats' cheese and rosemary

I use two kinds of cheese in this indulgent risotto. The soft cheese melts creamily into the risotto, whereas the cheese with rind (Bûcheron chèvre) cut from a thick log, grills to perfection.

Serves 4-6

You will need

20 large garlic cloves, peeled (you will only use 8, but you can keep the rest in a jar of oil in the refrigerator)

75ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for basting

4-6 large thick slices goats' cheese with rind

4-6 small sprigs of rosemary, plus extra to serve

About 1.5 litres hot vegetable stock or chicken stock

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

500g risotto rice

200g soft mild goats' cheese (the one with no rind)

50g freshly grated Parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

30-cm/12-inch square of foil

A baking sheet

Non-stick baking parchment

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Put the garlic and 2 tablespoons of oil in a mixing bowl, season and toss well.

Put the garlic in the middle of the foil, fold up the long ends and fold together at the top to create a seal. Fold in the short ends to create a sealed packet. Set on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn over, cut a small hole in the top and roast the packet upside down for a further 10 minutes.

Put the sliced goats' cheese on a grill pan lined with the parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and put a rosemary sprig on each one. Sprinkle with pepper and set aside. Preheat the grill.

Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add 8 roasted garlic cloves and half the chopped rosemary. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the rice until well coated with oil and heated through.

Begin adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring gently until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. The risotto should be kept at a bare simmer throughout cooking - don't let the rice dry out and add more stock as necessary. Halfway through cooking time, grill the sliced goats' cheese until browned on top. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, but the grains still firm. (This should take about 15-20 minutes depending on the type of rice used.) Stir in the soft cheese and remaining rosemary.

Taste, season well and beat in the Parmesan. Cover and let rest for a couple of minutes so the risotto can relax, then serve immediately.

Using a palette knife, set a slice of goats' cheese on each serving and top with a sprig of rosemary.

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