I love how eye catching this risotto is. The jet-black of the squid ink is pretty amazing, especially when it's contrasted with the white sauteed squid on top, which is nicely scored in a criss-cross pattern and finished with a pinch of persillade, which adds a nice hint of green. It's a good-looking dish, that's undeniable, but it also tastes great too of course!
Ask your fishmonger to separate the squid bodies and tentacles. The tentacles are great fried whole until they're crisp and they are perfect for garnishing the top of the risotto with, but I also like to chop some of them into small pieces and put them in the soffrito with the shallots and garlic. If you fry them in a hot pan until they're caramelised and sticky, this gives a powerful savoury base for the risotto.
Even if the squid has been cleaned and prepped beforehand, scoring the bodies properly is a bit time consuming and requires some finesse to get it right. It's worth making the effort to make it nice though.
- 3 medium squid, cleaned
- 1 sachet squid ink
- 200 g carnaroli rice
- 2 medium banana shallots, finely chopped
- 1 glassful dry white wine
- 500 ml chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- 50 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm dice
- 50 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
Firstly, prepare the squid. Hopefully your fishmonger has already cleaned the squid and separated the bodies from the tentacles. Rinse the squid under running cold water. Set aside 1 set of tentacles for each portion, for the garnish at the end. Now remove the wings from the sides of the squid bodies and the remaining tentacles and finely chop them with a sharp knife, then set aside.
Scoring the bodies of the squid is a bit fiddly: cut each of the bodies down one side to create a flat piece of squid. The outside of the squid is noticeably tougher than the inside, which is fairly soft. Place each one on the chopping board, _soft side down_ and trim the edges so until uniformly smooth and use the knife to scrape any stray bits of membrane off. You want to score the soft side of the squid in lines about 3mm apart, but you should be careful not to cut all the way through. It's actually easier if you're knife isn't very sharp. Once all the squid is scored, store it on a kitchen towel or j-cloth and set aside.
Make some _persillade_ by mixing about a teaspoonful of the chopped garlic with the chopped parsley. Now for the risotto. Place a large, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped squid with a generous pinch of salt. Stir briefly, then leave the squid alone to caramelise. When it's starting to colour, stir it again. A bit of liquid will probably be released as it's cooking which is fine, just let it boil off. When all the liquid has gone and the squid is sticky and sweet, add the shallots and garlic. Turn the heat down to low and add some more olive oil if the pan is looking a bit dry. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes until the shallots are soft and sweet.
Make sure the stock is boiling hot. Add the rice, and turn the heat to high. Stir and fry the rice in the sticky shallots and squid for about 1 minute, then add the white wine. Turn the heat to medium and stir continuously until all the liquid is gone. Add the stock, one ladleful at a time, and keep stirring. Continue like this until the rice is _just_ cooked. It's important to _not stop stirring_ as you need to massage as much starch out of the rice as possible.
When the rice is ready, take it off the heat and add the butter (leaving a bit aside for the garnish), a little at a time, until it's thoroughly mixed in. Add the parmesan and about a ½ teaspoon of the squid ink. Stir until thoroughly mixed, then put a lid on the risotto and set aside while you prepare the garnish.
Take a heavy-based frying pan and place it over a high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to get hot (about 20 seconds). Take the scored squid and the reserved tentacles and season them with salt. Place the scored squid in the pan, scored side down, and throw in the tentacles. Fry them until they're caramelised, then remove from the heat and allow the pan to cool for about 30 seconds. Add a small piece of butter and about 1 teaspoon of persillade, and toss until the squid is coated. Ladle the risotto into bowls and garnish with the sauteed squid.