Sunday, April 15, 2012
Risotto has always been a very interesting dish to cook, because as in many other Italian dishes, one can be very creative in using different ingredients and combinations. My "comfort food" type of risotto has always been risotto with peas, easy to make and very tasty. However, since I came from a traditional seafood oriented city, there are a lot of variations that are worth mentioning. Many restaurants located along the Italian coast create incredibly tasty seafood risotto. The beauty of it is that you can use the fresh seafood locally found and use it as a main ingredient. Some of these restaurants have been doing it for such a long time that they have a long tradition. Trying to replicate their recipes is virtually impossible. It is worth mentioning that this particular staple is relatively new to Italy, where in asian countries rice has been grown and consumed for about 7000 years and is still nowadays one of the major components of asian cuisine. Today I 'd like to introduce an interesting variation of risotto, made with cuttlefish and squid ink, hence the black coloration in the final result. The black ink doesn't give out significant flavor to the final product, but the cuttlesfish tastes really good and pleasing for those who are really into seafood.
1 and 1/2 Onion
1 pound of cleaned cuttlefish (you can use calamari instead)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 packets of squid ink available at fish markets or specialty stores
1 and 1/2 cups of arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Before beginning to cook the risotto, bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil, and and drop the peeled onion and half carrot inside. This is to serve as the broth you will use to cook the risotto. Let it continue to boil as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. After about 20 minutes, reduce it to a simmer.
To make the risotto, in a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. When the olive oil is nice and hot, add the diced onion and stir it occasionally until the onion is soft, about 5-10 minutes. Next, add the rice to the onion/olive oil mixture, and let it brown for about 2 minutes, stirring nearly constantly. At this point you are ready to add the two packets of squid ink and the pound of cuttlefish, which you will have cleaned and cut into strips a little less than a centimeter wide. Stir to combine.
Now you will add the cup of wine to the mixture, along with the broth you made with the onion and carrot. Ladle the broth into the mixture until the rice is just covered. Continue stirring pretty much constantly for about 15 minutes. As cooking liquid is absorbed, add more broth as needed. Continue stirring and cooking until the rice is soft, but not mushy. It should be al dente. When the rice is nearly done, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the butter and parsley. Your risotto is now ready to serve. This dish pairs particularly well with a nice prosecco, or other dry sparkling wine you prefer. Buon Appetito! Enjoy!