Black Risotto with Crab and Artichoke (Riso Venere con Granchio e Carciofi)

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

1/2 lemon

4 Tbsp butter, divided

1 onion, 1 divided

1 carrot

1 stick celery


1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley


Put the crab legs in a stock pot and cover with water, about 1.5 litres (1.5 quarts).

Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Remove the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon, and allow the crab legs to steep in the hot water for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean the artichokes and slice them thinly. Since I used small artichokes, some part of the leaves was tender enough to be eaten as well.

Put the sliced artichoke in water with some lemon juice to prevent it from the discoloring.

The crab should be done by the time you’ve finished the artichokes. Reserve the steeping water to make the stock later, and lift the crab legs from the water with a slotted spoon.

Put the crab legs in cold water to cool off.

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.

Lower the heat and cover. Cook the artichokes, stirring regularly to prevent them from burning, until they are tender.

The artichokes will take 20-30 minutes to become tender, then turn off the heat.

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.

Make sure that you pick the meat carefully, as you don’t want tiny shell fragments ending up in your risotto.

Once you have picked all the crab meat, put it in a bowl, season with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper, and add a few drops of lemon juice. Stir, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed.

The crab stock is ready once it has simmered for about an hour (from the moment you added the vegetables. Sieve it with a fine sieve. You should have at least 750 ml (3 cups) of stock.

Add the tomato puree to the stock, and stir to incorporate. Season with salt. Keep the stock simmering.

Put the pan with the artichokes over medium high heat, and add the rice.

Toast the rice for a couple of minutes.

Deglaze with the white wine, and stir until it has evaporated.

Add a ladle of the hot crab stock…

…and stir until it has been absorbed. Keep adding stock and stirring until the rice is al dente.

This takes about 30 minutes. Switch to hot water if you run out of stock.

Once the rice is to your liking, turn the heat to low and add the crab meat, reserving 2 tablespoons of crab meat.

Add half of the parsley and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Turn off the heat.

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).

Serve the risotto on preheated plates. Garnish with the the remaining crab meat and the parsley.

Wine pairing

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.


4 thoughts on “Black Risotto with Crab and Artichoke (Riso Venere con Granchio e Carciofi)

  1. Grazie Stefan per esserti fidato della mia ricetta! Complimenti per la scelta coraggiosa del riso Venere, difficile per i risotti. Sono felice di essere stata abbinata a John Bartolini, un blog che adoro. Hai creato un piatto delizioso.

    Liked by 1 person

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