FoodLife & Style

For rice lovers: Risotto degli innamorati

This is a recipe Italians usually cook for their fiances or wives on Valentine’s day, which serves equally well as an intimate dinner for two. Its appearance and taste belie that fact that it's actually very simple to prepare. Here is how:

Ingredients for the risotto:
Vegetable stock–half a litre.
Red chilli powder–the point of a tea spoon, or more if you like your food spicy.
40g butter
1/2 onion
Three spoons of olive oil, preferably extra virgin
One glass (not optional, but during the preparation the wine will lose all its alcohol content)
160g carnaroli rice–this should be available in big supermarkets, if you do not find it use smaller-grain, pointy rice. Never use basmati.

For the prawn sauce:
Butter–the amount of a nutshell 
300g prawns, half small, half large; must be clean, and peeled
100ml fresh single cream
Two sticks of thyme (if possible, fresh)
1/2 onion
Three spoons of olive oil
Three spoons of fresh basil sauce (this can be bought, but is also easy to make)
Cognac (this liquor will also lose its alcohol content during preparation. It gives a finishing touch, but is not essential. You can use brandy instead)

Sauce preparation:
1. Cut the onion into small, regular-shaped pieces and fry together with the thyme in the olive oil and butter on a low flame.
2. Once the onion is golden, add the prawns. Let it cook for a few minutes while stirring.
3. Add the cognac half way through. Let the cognac evaporate.
4. Now add the basil sauce (only three spoons, remember), and the cream.
5. Stir until you have a pink-looking sauce.
6. Cover and put aside.

Risotto preparation:
1. Cut the onion into small, regular-shaped pieces and fry together with the thyme in the olive oil and butter on a low flame.
2. Keep stirring and fry until the onion is golden.
3. Throw the onion into the same pot as the rice (with no water). Stir regularly and thoroughly; it must not attach to the bottom of the pan.
4. The rice should “toast.” It should take around 5 minutes to take on a golden color while it mingles with the butter.
5. Pour in the white wine. You must now wait until it evaporates completely. Do so on a medium-high fire.
6. At this point you will have prepared another pot with the stock. The stock must be simmering constantly.
7. Add stock to the rice until it is barely covered. Do not cover the risotto–stir constantly.
8. As the stock dries out, gradually add more stock. Let it dry again, then add more stock.
9. Repeat until the rice is ready (taste it). Add salt.
10. Shortly before the rice is ready add the chilli powder, then the sauce.
11. Once ready, do not drain the risotto; let the stock dry until it reaches the desired consistency.
12. Put on a plate and serve immediately.


In theory one should use fish stock. But I never trusted ready-made fish or meat stock. To make fish stock at home is a long and tedious job, so I suggest simply using the vegetable one.

If you want to make the tomato sauce on your own, here is how (it will taste much better than the shop-bought one):
1. Fry half an onion in olive oil (no butter) as explained above.
2. Add a can of peeled tomatoes and some fresh basil leaves. Add salt.
3. Let the sauce dry until it is no longer watery.

Buon Appetito!

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