Sunday, 12 January 2014

Seafood Risotto

Seafood risotto
Risotto takes a bit of time, and you have to stay right by the cooker the whole time, but the process for cooking a risotto is really not that complicated. Risotto can be made using nearly any type of meat, or as a vegetarian dish.

My favourite risotto though is the Seafood Risotto, made using fish and a mix of shellfish like prawns, calimari, and mussels.

To keep costs down, I often buy a pack of mixed fish that has been packed for use in fish pies. For a special treat though or when it is on sale, I will pick up a fillet of undyed, smoked haddock and poach it.

Poaching smoked haddock

I do this in the oven.  

Rule of thumb:
  • If the fish has been smoked, poach it in milk
  • If the fish has not been smoked, poach it in water.
Smoked haddock

When buying smoked haddock, look for fish with firm flesh. Try to find smoked haddock which has not been dyed. The dying process adds nothing to the flavour and gives an unsightly orange colour to the fish.

1 large smoked haddock fillet
few whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
pinch salt
milk to cover

Trim the thin outer edges from the haddock fillets to use with the fish stock. Carefully check the fillet for bones and remove using a pair of tweezers. If you have a fishmonger, you can ask him to remove the bones for you.

Place the fillets, peppercorns, bay leaf and salt in an ovenproof dish. Pour over enough milk to just cover the fish.

Cover lightly with a piece of foil or some greaseproof (kitchen parchment) paper.

Place in a moderately hot oven (Gas mark 4) for about 20 minutes.

Once cooked, remove the fillet from the milk and remove the skin.

The milk, once cooled and strained, could be mixed with diced chicken and cooked rice to feed your pet. Or, pour it over your plants to give them a really good feed. 

To make the risotto

You will need: 

1 tbsp olive oil
2 slices smoked back bacon, chopped
1 large leek, chopped into rings
350g (12 oz) risotto rice
1 glass white wine (optional)
1.7 litres (3 pints) stock, simmering
250g (1/2 pound) king prawns, or mied seafood
1 cup frozen peas
2 smoke haddock fillets, poached in milk, or 300gm fish pie mix
55g (2 oz) Parmesan, freshly grated
30g (1 oz) butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking method:

Use a heavy saucepan, big enough to contain the rice plus the liquid. Heat the oil and slowly cook the bacon in this. Once cooked down, add the leeks and peas and cook until softened.

Increase the heat, then add the rice. Turn the rice with a wooden spoon. You start to add the boiling stock when the rice is well and truly impregnated with oil and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the glass of wine, if using, and stir until nearly absorbed. Then begin adding only a ladleful of boiling stock at a time. Continue to stir and add the stock once the previous ladle is nearly completely absorbed until the rice appears to be cooked (after 20 - 25 minutes). Add the prawns and mixed fish 5 minutes before the rice finishes cooking if raw. Add the prawns after the rice has finished cooking if using cooked prawns.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and parmesan and cover. Without stirring, let the rice absorb the last of the liquid for about 5 minutes. The risotto should have a creamy consistency, but the grains should still be firm to the bite (al dente). Just before serving, stir everything in together.

This last operation is called 'mantecare', possibly from the Spanish 'manteca' which means 'fat'. Take a bite and add seasoning to suit your taste. Serve straight away.

Risotto image by Tamorlan (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons