This post was inspired by two of my blogging friends. The idea to use riso venere, black rice, came from ChgoJohn. Black risotto can be made in two ways: by using squid ink to make ordinary risotto black, or by using this black rice. It is a wholegrain type of rice that takes longer to cook and has a great flavor and texture.
The idea to combine crab and artichoke came from Silva Rigobello. She recently posted black lasagnette (in this case, made with squid ink) with crab and artichokes. I had never tried crab and artichoke before, but since I trust Silva’s judgement and she says it’s good, I wanted to try it. Then I remembered the riso venere I had picked up a while ago and so I decided to create my own dish, very loosely based upon Silva’s recipe. As a salute to her recipe, I garnished the risotto with a wedge of tomato.
And you know what? It turned out delicious! Artichoke and crab do indeed go well together, and it also worked very well with the black rice. It all becomes one delicious new flavor with a great depth and balance. The black rice does not become as creamy as a regular risotto like carnaroli or arborio and it takes longer to cook, but otherwise this recipe works like a regular risotto. Instead of using crab from a tin, I used frozen crab legs, cooked them, picked the meat, and used the shells to make a stock for the risotto. Altogether it is quite a bit of work, about two hours from start to finish, but it’s worth it! This dish is very original and has great depth of flavor. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings as ‘piatto unico’ or 4 servings as part of an Italian 4-course menu
1 kg (2.2 lbs) crab legs
6 small artichokes (or 2 large ones)
130 grams (2/3 cup) riso venere
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
60 ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree (passata di pomodoro)
dash of cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 onion, 1 divided
1 stick celery
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
Meanwhile, melt 3 Tbsp butter in a frying pan. Mince half the onion and add it to the butter once it foams, together with the drained artichokes. Stir for a minute over medium heat and season with salt.
Chop the remaining half of the onion, the carrot, and the celery, and add to the crab steeping water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. While you are braising the artichokes, pick the crab meat and add the shells to the stock pot.
Stir until the butter has melted. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. Allow the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the reserved crab meat in the microwave (10 seconds is probably enough).
Artichokes are notoriously difficult for wine pairing, but this dish worked outstanding with a full-bodied dry Riesling from Mosel (Germany), Clemens Busch Vom roten Schiefer. This Riesling is made from Spätlese/Auslese grapes to get such a full body and creaminess, but is dry.
This Lamb Stew with Small Onions and Carrots is very hearty and flavorful, perfect for cold weather.