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Crab & watercress risotto

11 September 2004

Today I did one of those random shopping trips, just buying what looked nice to see what I could make with it. Came home with some lovely fresh local crabs’ legs, really good strong peppery watercress from the Chinese supermarket and a bag of mixed mushrooms. So here is Chaz’z recipe for crab and watercress risotto:

Buy a pound of crabs’ legs, and strip out all the flesh while you listen to the cricket on the radio. Try to keep it in chunky lumps. Break the shells up with a hammer, and put them into a pan with a litre of fish or chicken stock. Simmer for twenty minutes, then strain and keep the stock hot.

Meanwhile, roughly chop a handful of spring onions and set them to fry in olive oil in a large pan. Crush a couple of cloves of garlic and add to the pan, followed by a couple of handfuls of mushrooms - whole if they’re chestnuts or smaller, chopped into chunks if they’re field or flat-caps. Wild is best, as ever.

After a couple of minutes, add 250g of risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano) and fry a minute longer, till the grains go opaque.

Add a glass of white wine, and cook till it has all been absorbed; then add the stock one ladleful at a time, and again cook each ladleful out until it’s thoroughly absorbed before you add the next. Keep stirring throughout; constant attention is the secret of a good risotto. Salt and pepper as you go.

When the grains are lusciously creamy on the outside but retain an edge of bite at the heart, add a couple of handfuls of watercress, stalks and all. You might also like to drop in a handful of prawns or whelks or mussels, or splash out on a scallop or two.

As soon as the watercress has wilted, add the crab meat, and then a small carton of cream. Stir all together, give it a last minute to simmer all the flavours together, and then serve with fresh watercress and shavings of parmesan. It’s really rather good.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.