PEARLY KING Arborio, the type of rice used in risotto, is widely available.
Savour the season with risotto
Food and wine
Bleeding red sky, with burning sun dropping to the the right of Croagh Patrick, hedgerows simmering prior to erupting with growth and colour, the sights and sounds of nature awakening from a winter slumber to enjoy and celebrate the bounties of a summer…
Sure it may have all passed by the time you read this, and snow may be atop the Reek, but boy don’t we live in a beautiful time and place?
For me Risotto always reminds me of spring and the promise of hot, summer days. Risotto is the perfect complement to fresh spring produce; shellfish, fish, spring onions, spinach leaves.
Risotto uses Arborio, which is just a certain type of short-grained rice from an Italian town. Really all you do is cook it more in a measured way than boiling rice. You start with a few basics and keep adding ingredients and water until you end up with the finished dish. All risottos start with sweating onions. Add the rice without water, stirring, adding wine, water, and stock.
The whiteness of the risotto is a fabulous contrast with green veggies, red prawns and black mussels. Asparagus or crunchy green beans offer a great texture and also contrast well with the slightly mushy, creamy-but-with-bite Arborio rice. Add your veggies whenever you like, according to how firm you like them.
Spring seafood risotto
Shellfish always contributes a fabulous flavour – the taste of their meats, the juices and seawater released into the mix and the minerals elements of the shells.
- 400g risotto rice
- 70g butter
- 2 med onion
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 big glass white wine
- 1 litre veg/fish stock
- 1 kilo mussels cooked, half shelled (you can use the juices from the mussels cooking instead of stock, or mix half ‘an’ half)
- 100g grated parmesan
- 5 spring onions in inch-long cuts
- Fistful washed spinach
Sweat the onions and garlic in butter, giving it a good, relaxed ten minutes ’til translucent. Stir in your Arborio rice, coating it all over. Add the vino and cook on a medium heat, then start adding your stock slowly.
Keep stirring as you cook. You want to slowly ooze the starch out into the creamy surroundings, but you don’t want it to end up stodgy and thick.
To cook the mussels just wash them well and place them on a high heat in a saucepan, no water, and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the shells open (around five minutes).
Add your mussels to the risotto after you’ve removed half of them from their shells. Add the green veg and cook on until the rice is creamy, but with little bite. Then throw in the parmesan and stir well. Put a lid on the saucepan and leave for two minutes or more for the final stage in creating ooziness.
Season and serve, savouring the white, black and green colours, the different textures – soft, crunch, bite. Taste the flavours of the sea, the land, the veg garden, and enjoy the creamy goodness of spring.
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thurs, from 8am to 1pm.