Having eaten a rather bland risotto in a so called Italian restaurant many years ago – i’ll add it was the first time I had tried one! – I was so disappointed that I NEVER cooked it, chose it or recommended it. I just didn’t get it. Truth is, I still find risottos rather bland when eaten out…but at home, made with your favourite flavorsome ingredients you’ll be going back for more.
This particular recipe is loosely (very loosely) based on what was the second risotto I ever ate and to this day the best one I’ve ever had.
As well as taste, a prawn risotto for me brings back fond memories of the very last trip we took with my late father which also happened to be my 30th birthday. To cut a long story short – when my dad was diagnosed with incurable mesothelioma he and his partner decided to spend what time they had left together travelling around Europe in a motor home – something my Dad has always wanted to do. My other half and I, joined by my sister and my then 7 month old niece flew out to join them on the stunning island of Sardinia. Staying in a mobile home on a large family campsite – we have to say we didn’t know what to expect but the entire trip turned out to be one of the best holiday’s I’ve ever been on. And one I doubt i’ll never forget.
We decided to go to the port one day to see if we could book ourselves a trip out on a boat. On arrival we were disappointed to see no tourists boats running. So we sat down for lunch instead. If I recall correctly we were approached by a lovely English lady who was pleased to hear a familiar language. As we got talking, it turned out that she was married to a Sardinian who owned a boat he took tourists out on. So we arranged a day trip.
It was on this boat trip, that Captain Tore (who took my wheat intolerance very seriously and didn’t serve anyone pasta!) made us the best seafood risotto known to man. Now I am sure the ridiculous amounts of Prosecco he poured us, the stunning scenery, the sea urchin diving and sea fishing all contributed – but the freshness of the ingredients and the clear enjoyment that Tore had in making this dish for us – really did make it very special. If I recall I think it was his birthday too!
Needless to say we all struck a friendship and ended up spending a fair time together. I watched Tore make this dish twice in the end, as he and his wife kindly took us out again. I was desperate for a recipe of course – but instead I watched intently taking mental notes.
I must make it very clear that mine does in noway compare to said risotto – my method is more suited to the types of ingredients readily and more cheaply available at our British supermarkets as an every day meal but I promise, you will love it, its still indulgent! A friend once told me that I had “restored her faith in risottos” – so that’s gotta count for something!
So, this recipe is in honour of my dad, memories and the people that make them…
Ingredients (serves 4)
350g Risotto rice – Arborio or Carnaroli will do the trick!
200-300g Raw peeled king prawns – depending on how you like your prawn to rice ratio!
50g Chorizo – of the cooking variety sliced – chopped into cubes
1 Litre Fish stock AND vegetable stock – Fresh or stock pots I usually do 1/4 fish to 3/4 vegetable, I find if you just use fish stock this can taste a bit too fishy. (I have never made this using dry stock cubes so cannot be held responsible if your risotto tastes too salty or odd!)
Tomato puree – 2 table spoons
2 Shallots – finely diced
2 cloves of garlic – finley diced
200 ml Prosecco or champagne
1 ball of Mozzarella (125g) – Bear with me on this one! It works!
100g Petite Pois – frozen or fresh
Pepper – for seasoning
Olive oil – for cooking and serving
Rocket leaves and parmesan – for serving (optional)
Tip: You’ll need a deep frying pan or a proper risotto/Paella pan for best results. You’re looking for wide and shallow rather than narrow and tall.
1. Prawns – lightly fry the prawns in a splash of olive oil, you’re not looking to cook them through just get some colour on them. Remove from the pan and set aside
2. Chorizo – Now fry the chorizo cubes in a little oil until just starting to caramelise and again, remove from the pan and set aside
3.. Shallots and garlic – lightly fry the shallots and garlic in a good glug of olive oil until just turning colour
4. Rice – Now add in the dry rice, stir well, ensuring every grain has a good coating of oil. Stirring continuously fry on a medium heat for a minute or so
5. Prosecco – Add the Prosecco and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed
6. Stock and puree – now pour about half of the stock mix over the rice and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering and gently stirring ever so often and adding more stock as needed – until the rice is plumped up and soft. Add the puree in at this stage too.(With this dish you are not looking for a sloppy risotto just cooked through)
7. Prawns, chorizo and peas – now toss these in- juices and all, stir in gently, cook for a minute or so to heat the new ingredients through
8. Season – with pepper to taste – you really wont need salt!
9. Basil and mozzarella – Tear up the basil and mozzarella by hand and toss through lightly right before serving – you are looking to not wilt the basil too much and you want lovely gooey lumps of mozzeralla in every other bite!
10. Serve – hot, garnished with rocket leaves, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil – my friends can’t help themselves adding rated parmesan too!
11. Enjoy with a glass of your favourite wine – White of red will work well with this as it has spice, tomato and seafood!