I know on first inspection this sunshine-y, colourful dish looks wholly inappropriate for a stormy, chilly Autumnal weekend. But on reflection, you might find yourself coming round to my way of thinking, which is that on a dark, windy and rainy evening, it’s may be just what we need. With a peppery rocket salad and a very cold glass of a zingy white wine, you could imagine yourself in Spain enjoying a sultry sunset on the balcony of a swish hotel overlooking the Med…
The real explanation for this is probably that subconsciously I am thinking about Spain, as (YAY!) I’m off to Spain next week (sorry, I just had to drop that in). But before you get too jealous, might I inform you that I shall be travelling with a 3 and 1 year old. Yep, thought that would redress the jealousy balance. Adam doesn’t have the holidays, so me and the kids will be sunning ourselves as he slaves away. Seems fair to me.
I always wanted to try a baked risotto. Why this isn’t a baked paella I don’t really know. It’s a bit more like a paella consistency than a risotto, but there’s not much in it really. I know that cooking rice in this manner is usually referred to as a baked risotto so who am I to argue? The main point here is that it works. You start it off as a risotto, then pour in the stock and bake, stirring once, and adding the cheese (and in this case prawns too) for the last ten minutes. Try it when you can’t face being chained to the cooker but crave a carby rice feast; it is easier than the traditional stirring method and just as good.
Just a note to say that if you use fresh prawns with their shells on, as I have, then you can use the shells to make a fantastically prawny stock. If using fresh pre-shelled prawns, then use water or a light chicken / vegetable stock. Don’t be tempted to use cooked prawns – as even 10 minutes in the oven would kill them – they need to go in raw.
To make enough for 5/6 people:
400g risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
800ml stock (I made my own fish stock from the prawn shells and heads)
about 20 fresh prawns, peeled and deveined
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
tablespoon olive oil
small glass of white wine or vermouth
200g cooking chorizo, diced
about 20 cherry tomatoes
juice of half a lemon
big pinch of salt (if using shop bought stock don’t add salt)
freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil, drizzled
chunks of lemon to squeeze
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Peel and devein your prawns if you are using fresh whole ones. Keep the shells aside in a pan for the stock. To devein, simply use a small sharp knife to slit right down the back and pull out the ‘poo pipe’ – nice! Put prawns to one side until later.
- To make the stock simply cover the shells with 800ml of water and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain, squashing all the prawns so all the goodness is extracted, and leave on the hob simmering to keep hot.
- Meanwhile, soften your onions and garlic over a low heat in the olive oil. After about 5 minutes, when they are getting soft but not fully done, add the chorizo and cook for another 5 or so minutes to allow the gorgeous smokey paprika flavours to release into the oil.
- Add your rice and stir to coat. Throw in the wine and let sizzle for a minute.
- Now pour in the hot stock. Carefully tip the whole lot into a suitable casserole type dish (or simply transfer if using a casserole dish from the beginning) in the oven. I started it in a large frying pan and then transferred to a Spanish cazuela (large terracotta cooking pot).
- After 20 minutes baking. Take out and give it a good stir. If it has sucked up all the water, add a little (half a mugful) boiling water. Season well, squeeze the lemon juice in. Stir again, carefully adding grated cheese and then prawns. Pop the tomatoes artfully around the place too.
- Bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with a piquant salad (I made rocket and pine nut with a sharp dressing) and eat whilst dreaming of sunnier climes…