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Early Summer Prawn and Pea Risotto Recipe Paired with Calem Branco Douro 2018
In winter I make a lot of risotto – it’s the ultimate comfort food, like a savoury rice pudding. Once the sun comes out I’m a little less inclined to stand stirring the pot to make that perfect risotto, but there are some ingredients that just lend themselves so well to risotto, I can be tempted. With just a handful of blue prawns and a bottle of Portuguese white wine that the bottle notes suggested would pair well with seafood dishes, fish and fruit, and with a jug of fish stock that I’d made when we’d indulged in a fresh crab for supper I was easily led astray.
As one of my friends pointed out, the big advantage of making risotto is that it justifies opening a bottle of wine. You need a small glassful if you are cooking for two – and after that, the rest, of course, needs to be consumed. So, prawn and pea risotto is what I concocted, based on my own recipe for pea and parmesan risotto, but pimped up with the fish stock, the prawns and a handful of rocket for that obligatory food blogger shot!
I made this risotto using Carnaroli rice. You do need Italian short-grained rice if you are going to attempt risotto – and there are are plenty of options. Arborio, Vialone, Nano or Baldo are some of the others. Most people end up having a favourite, but I suspect that’s partly because you get used to cooking with your own rice of choice rather than that one is technically ‘better’ than the other.
Making a seafood risotto doesn’t need fish stock and in fact, it will work perfectly well with vegetable stock or light chicken stock. While I wouldn’t use a stock cube because those you can buy here tend to be a little salty and overpowering, some pre-prepared stocks like the Essential Cuisine range are an acceptable alternative. I’d advise against using a strong fish stock too – mine was made by boiling the crab shells for just half an hour. If you buy prawns on the shell, you could make a good stock by boiling those up instead.
An easy early summer recipe for prawn and pea risotto
- 150 g Carnaroli rice
- 15 g Unsalted Butter
- 100 ml Dry white wine
- 1 ltr Stock I used fish stock
- 50 g Fresh or Frozen Peas
- 100 g Raw Prawns
- 40 g Parmesan or Grana Padano Cheese optional - I believe Italians would not add cheese with a fish dish
- 40 g Cold Unsalted Butter diced
- 1 handful Wild Rocket
- Salt and pepper to season
Add the butter to a heavy-bottomed pan and melt it over a low heat
Meanwhile, heat the stock to a gentle simmer
Add in the rice, stirring to coat all the grains. Cook over a very low heat until the grains start to turn translucent.
Pour in the wine and continue to stir until it is absorbed.
Keeping the heat low, add in the stock, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon or, if you have one, a girariso, a kind of spatula with a hole in the middle that will make the process more efficient.
By the time you've added in about 3/4 of the stock, the rice should have softened a little but still have plenty of bite. Stir in the prawns and peas.
Continue to add stock until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite.
Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Add in the remaining butter and the cheese and stir well.
Beat the mixture well until the risotto is creamy. This is a process to release the starches in the rice.
Serve your risotto garnished with wild rocket which should wilt into the rice and add a lovely peppery finish
The wine I paired with this came from Calem who also produce the white port I used for my port and tonic cocktail, from their cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto
Curva is made with indigenous Portuguese grapes, malvesia fina and gouveio, from the Douro. The wine region has a continental climate with hot and dry summers and cold winters, sheltered by the Marão and Montemuro mountains. It’s a DOC wine, 13% ABV and it has a delicious, well-balanced acidity. Fresh and intense, it paired really well with the risotto.