So, you’ve finally got that dinner date you’ve wanted with that cute girl or hot guy you’ve been after, and everything’s set to plan. Wine? Check. Snappy outfit? Oh yeah. Dinner? Well, there’s some Frosties left… Or maybe you’ve just got some friends are coming over for the evening. It’s all fun and games until everyone inevitably gets hungry – and let’s face it, you don’t want them to know you live usually live off of Pop Tarts and chicken dippers.
You’re in luck! This bright and punchy risotto is a quick and easy meal that tastes fantastic and doesn’t break the bank. It’s exotic and subtle, but without being too prissy or lightweight – it’s hearty, rich and filling as risotto should be. And, since you’re not going to turn into Michel Roux Jr. overnight, it keeps the culinary skills to a minimum.
Ingredients (feeds four)
360g Arborio rice (or 80g per person)
4 uncooked chorizo sausages
1 red pepper
100g green beans
3 cloves of garlic
1 fresh chilli
1 glass of white wine
250g King Prawns (peeled, uncooked)
150g baby leaf spinach
3 tsp. Paprika
2 tsp. Oregano
1 cube of chicken stock
A knob of butter
A handful of fresh basil
Spending a few minutes preparing your ingredients up front speeds the whole cooking process up, and helps to make sure that you don’t forget anything. Slice the chorizo and pepper, dice the garlic and the chilli, and chop the green beans so that each chunk is about an inch in length. Finally, fill your kettle to the max and boil.
First, fry the chorizo on a medium-heat until sealed. Since uncooked chorizo has a high fat content, there’s no need to put in any oil – as the meat heats through it will begin to fry in its own juices. Keep stirring and after a few minutes, throw in the red pepper and the green beans. Fry them with the chorizo for about another five minutes. When the chorizo is sealed and the vegetables are beginning to look as if they’ve spent a fortnight in the Costa del Sol, tip everything into a bowl, taking care to retain a little of the reddish oil in the pan, and cover it up so that it doesn’t get cold.
Once the pot is back on the heat, throw in the garlic and the chilli, and fry for a couple of minutes. Tip in the risotto rice – without any water – and keep it moving, to make it crispy before bringing to a boil. After another minute passes, pour in a glass of white wine and scrub the bottom of the pan with a spatula to de-glaze: the rice should absorb that flavour. Use a second glass if it’s stubborn. Don’t worry about the alcohol content – all of the alcohol is burnt off by the heat, and none of the flavour is retained.
Next, pour enough boiling water into the pot to cover the rice, and crumble in a cube of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer for five minutes, or as long as the rice needs to begin absorbing the water. Stir every so often to make sure that the rice isn’t burning to the bottom of the pan. Each time you notice that the water is low, top it up with a little by little, but take care not to drown the rice. You’ll need between 1 and 1.5 litres of water overall, and the rice should take around 20 minutes to cook through.
Once the Arborio rice has begun to thicken and grow soft, turn the heat down a little and throw in the king prawns. These only need about four or five minutes to cook through – adding them too early will make them become chewy and tough. Add your spices: The paprika and oregano will give the rice a lovely aroma and a much-needed dash of colour. Grab the bowl full of chorizo, red pepper and green beans and pour it all into the pan, stirring it through. The blood-red oil should instantly be absorbed by the rice, spreading the flavour of the sausages throughout the dish.
The Italians say never to add cheese to any dish with seafood in it – but this risotto breaks all the rules. Grin smugly as you rebelliously stir through the parmesan (leaving some to garnish at the table) until the rice is sticky. Tear up the spinach leaves in your hands over the pot, and watch as it wilts into the mixture. Crack a generous few twists of black pepper and sea salt over it, throw in a knob of butter and put a lid on the pan for a minute or so.
Finally, stir it through one more time and dish the risotto out into bowls with a ladle. Add a sprig or two of fresh basil to each, sit down and enjoy your masterpiece. This colourful and fragrant dish is full of sharp, crisp flavours– the coolness of the vegetables taking the edge off the savoury quality of the chorizo and the saltiness of the prawns, while the parmesan holds it all together and gives it that gluey texture. Cook this meal just once, and you’ll surely come back to it again and again for a midweek supper or a weekend treat. Enjoy!