Since my first attempt at a risotto, a rather wonderful spring vegetable risotto with poached egg, early on in lockdown, I have been super keen to try my hand at making another!
Facing another weekend alone I thought why not try making my own stock and this wonderful prawn risotto looked so good that I was only slightly scared to completely mess it up.
And I have to say, it may take a bit of time (the stock has to simmer for a good hour) but step by step this was actually really manageable to make and master and heck now I even know how to shell and butterfly a prawn, another skill to add to my 'what I learnt during lockdown' CV.
The final risotto was outstanding, the stock so beautifully rich in it's prawn flavour, and even further elevated by last minute additions of mascarpone, butter and lemon zest
This risotto is for sure the one if you want to impress when hosting, totally restaurant quality bug achievable to make home!
My secret tip: Iceland actually sells surprisingly good quality whole prawns which means this dish may taste and look luxury but can be affordable to make! Better get stirring!
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 450g head-on prawns, shells and heads removed and reserved, prawns butterflied (if you don't know how go on youtube and watch a quick tutorial, I did and was a master by the end of it!)
- 2 Tbsp. tomato puree
- ⅔ cup dry white wine, divided
- 1 medium carrot, scrubbed, halved crosswise
- 1 celery stalk, halved crosswise
- 6 large sprigs thyme
- 2 large onions, peeled, halved through root end, divided
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled, divided
- 1½ cups arborio rice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 130g. mascarpone, room temperature, divided
- 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced chives
- Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium-high.
- Add prawn heads and shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells and oil are bright red and shells are very fragrant, 5–8 minutes.
- Use a potato masher to press down very firmly on heads to release their juices.
- Stir in tomato puree and cook until it starts to brown and stick to bottom of pot, about 1 minute.
- Add ⅓ cup wine and cook, scraping up brown bits, until almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.
- Add carrot, celery, thyme sprigs, 2 onion halves, all but 4 garlic cloves, and 8 cups water.
- Toss in a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high.
- Reduce heat and simmer until stock is reduced by one-quarter and very fragrant, 60–70 minutes.
- While stock is simmering, finely chop remaining onion and garlic cloves.
- Remove stock from heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan; discard solids. Taste and season lightly with salt.
- Keep warm over low heat.
- Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add chopped onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and softened, about 5 minutes (do not let it take on any color).
- Add rice and cook, stirring often, until grains are almost entirely translucent and starting to stick to bottom of pot, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in remaining ⅓ cup wine and cook, stirring, until wine is almost completely evaporated.
- Ladle in about 1 cup warm stock and cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed.
- Repeat process, adding more stock as each addition is absorbed, until rice is tender but not mushy, 25–30 minutes.
- The risotto should be loose, creamy, and saucy, but thick enough that you can see bottom of pot when stirring.
- Season risotto with salt and pepper and stir in prawns.
- Cook, stirring, until prawns are pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and finely grate in lemon zest.
- Add butter and a few spoons of mascarpone and stir until incorporated.
- Spoon risotto onto plates and dollop on remaining mascarpone & top with chives.