PRAWN AND ROSEMARY RISOTTO

Risotto is one of those examples where simple is best. Often I make risotto just with lightly salted water or a simple vegetable broth. I think one of the biggest killers of a good risotto is overly salty stock which only masks the lightness of what a true risotto should be like. 

This risotto has a little more punch than a lighter vegetable one, and is so beautifully fragrant with prawns and rosemary and benefits from the rich prawn stock, which I can assure you is well worth making from scratch. Make sure you buy gorgeously fresh prawns as you'll be using the head and shells for the stock as well as the meat in the risotto. 

SERVES 4-6

FOR THE STOCK

1kg whole uncooked prawns

Extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 stick celery, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 cup of vermouth

pinch of chilli flakes 

2tbsp of tomato passata

 

FOR THE RISOTTO

Extra virgin olive oil

Unsalted butter

1 onion, finely diced

1 stick of celery, finely diced

450g of risotto rice (I prefer Vialone Nano or Carnaroli)

1 cup Vermouth

1tbsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

1. Remove the head and shell from the prawns, leaving the tails intact. Clean and wash the prawn meat and set them aside while you make the stock. 

2. Heat a large pot over a medium heat and add a glug of olive oil, the onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the prawn heads and shells and continue to cook until  the shells have become sticky and caramelised in the pan. You may need to add a little extra oil at this point. Add the vermouth and scrape anything from the bottom of the pan. Add the chilli flakes, passata and 1L of water. Simmer over a low heat for 20-30 minutes. Strain the stock, discarding the solids and return the liquid back into the pot, season to taste. Keep the stock on a low simmer as you begin the risotto. You may need to add extra water as it simmers to ensure you have enough liquid for the risotto. 

3. In a large pot, heat a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a little of butter over a low heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft and translucent, but not coloured. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice, stirring continuously for a minute or two to coat each grain. Add the vermouth – it will bubble and evaporate almost instantly! Ladle the hot stock into the risotto, one at a time, stirring consistently and letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding the next ladle. After about 15 minutes, check the rice for doneness. The grains still should have a little resistance to them but not chalky. Keep adding hot stock, stirring and checking until the rice is cooked to your liking. When finishing, be sure that the risotto isn't dry however it shouldn't at all be soupy.

4. Just before adding your last ladle of stock, toss in the prawns and the chopped rosemary. Add the final ladle of stock and continue to stir until prawns are pink and just cooked and the liquid has been adequately absorbed. Season to taste and stir through a little extra butter – this will give the risotto a delightful creaminess. Serve immediately.