risotto

I was fortunate enough to have my very first bowl of velvety, golden risotto one late Milanese night at a classic trattoria hidden on a quiet alley in the Navigli neighborhood of the city. My Barolo tinted memory believes it was called Alzaia, but I could certainly be mistaken. This risotto indoctrination occurred when I was already in the third decade of my life, but better late than never, right? I’d travelled to Italy and Switzerland on production for an international beauty/skincare brand tv shoot, and the local crew arranged all the best places for us to eat/drink/stay…to say it was a remarkable career expedition, would be a gross understatement.

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Fast forward to life in Ireland with risotto. That same sort of lush, saffron-tinged risotto, only now embellished with gorgeous, wild Irish mussels. It might not be Milan, but the combination is equally as spellbinding.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am partnering with Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) to celebrate all things mussels for the month of June. The #flexyourmussels campaign is underway to encourage more Irish consumers to cook and enjoy mussels at home and to consider ordering mussels when dining out too. Irish mussels are easy to prepare, high in 
protein and iron, are great value (at roughly 5 euros per kg), and packed full of flavour. You can check out Bord Bia’s “How to Prepare Mussels” video and more recipe inspo here.

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To create the best risotto, it is important to use the correct rice. Carnaroli, Arborio and Risotto Rice are the easiest to source and will all give you a great result.

Risotto with Fresh Mussels
Serves 4
Time: 40 minutes
INGREDIENTS
1kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
100ml white wine
150ml cold water
2 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
300g carnaroli/Arborio/risotto rice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
A large pinch saffron strands, soaked in 1 tablesp. boiling water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g butter
1 tablesp. dill roughly chopped (reserve a few fronds to garnish)
To serve: A lightly dressed green salad
METHOD
1. Place the wine and 150ml cold water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the saucepan a few times until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
2. Remove most of the mussels from their shells, reserving about 20 in their shells for the top of the cooked dish.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the fennel and onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the rice to the onion and fennel mixture and stir to coat with oil. Add the garlic and saffron and stir well.
4. Measure the reserved cooking liquid and add enough water to bring it up to 900mls.  Start adding the liquid, a little at a time, while stirring all the time. Wait until each addition of liquid has evaporated before adding more.  Keep going until all but a spoonful remains. Season to taste, then turn off the heat. Add the mussels and butter, stir, then cover with a lid for 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of cooking liquid, leaving any grit behind and fold in the chopped dill.
5. Divide the mussel risotto among 4 warmed bowls and top with the reserved mussels in their shells. Garnish with a few extra fronds of dill. Serve with a green salad.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS PER SERVING:
Energy:             462kcal
Protein:            15g
Fat:                      23g
Iron:                 4.2mg
Carbohydrate:  59g

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2 Responses to “Risotto with Fresh Mussels”

  1. Krista Bjorn says:

    What a gorgeous comfort food dish this is. 🙂 And how I miss fresh mussels!

  2. Emma Lander says:

    Oh wow it looks amazing. Unfortunately I am the only risotto lover in the family and it seems such a waste on me. I tried it first in Venice and I still think of that risotto.

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