Prawns are delicious in pasta and risottos and the best thing about them is they come ready with their own stock ingredients. If you buy shell on prawns you can use the shells to make a fantastic prawn stock which will take your risotto to the next level.
in Italy you can get Mediterranean prawns, which are soft and sweet and are naturally pink before they are even cooked.
1kg uncooked large prawns in their shells
1 onion, chopped very, very finely
400g superfino carnaroli rice
125ml dry white wine
1 tbs tomato passata
2 tbs of olive oil (flavoured with a chopped garlic clove if you like)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbs chopped parsley – reserve stalks for the stock
Salt and pepper
For the stock:
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
A few black peppercorns
1 tbs tomato paste
5 tbs dry white wine
For the mantecatura
about 75g cold butter, cut into small dice
Take the heads and tails from the prawns and remove the eyes, leave the prawn tails to cook later, leave the shells to one side for the stock.
To make the stock, heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, add the prawn heads shells, and crush them a little with a wooden spoon, so that they start to release their juices. Cook for about 5 minutes, tossing the shells around in the pan, to get all the flavour from them.
Add the vegetables, bay leaf, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Sweat for 3-4 minutes, then add the paste and the wine. Allow the alcohol to evaporate, then add 2.5 litres water (make sure all the shells are covered). Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing the shells to get all the flavour out.
To make the risotto, put the stock back on the hob, next to where you are going to make your risotto. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Melt the butter in a heavy pan, and add the onion. Cook gently until the onion is softened, but not coloured. Add the rice and stir around to coat in the butter and ‘toast’ the grains. Make sure all the grains are warm, before adding the wine. Let the wine evaporate completely. Start to add the stock, a ladleful or two at a time, stirring and scraping the rice in the pan as you do so. Add the tomato passata with the first ladleful of stock. When each ladleful has almost evaporated, add the next ladleful.
Carry on cooking the risotto for about 14 minutes, adding stock continuously. Slow up towards the end, so that the rice doesn’t become too soupy. The risotto is ready when the grains are soft, but still al dente.
In a seperate pan, cook the prawns in a little oil.
Take off the heat and let the risotto rest for a minute without stirring, then add the cooked prawns to the risotto, with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and lemon juice. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
For the mantecatura, with a wooden spoon, beat in the cold diced butter, making sure you shake the pan at the same time. Just before serving, if the risotto is too firm, beat in a little more hot stock to loosen it. Garnish with the chopped parsley.