Wednesday, November 21

Devon Crab & Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto

You have probably never used these knobbly little root veg but they are sure to be hiding somewhere in your local greengrocers as they are bang in season. They taste nothing like the more common deli counter Italian artichoke and have a unique taste that is all their own. Sweet and earthy, they work brilliantly in soups, stews, in mashes or paired here with brown crab. 

They are a bit of a bugger to peel and you must immediately toss in acidulated water (lemon water) to stop them going black, but a few go a long way in flavour terms. At the greengrocers, try to pick out larger artichokes with less knobbles to make your peeling job easier. If you are less fussed at having flecks of skin in your risotto, you can just fastidiously scrub and boil in their skins. 

Your fishmonger should have some packs of 50/50 white and brown crab meat that are perfect for this recipe. Also ask if they have any crab or prawn shells kicking about. These can be tossed into the stock pot to intensify the flavour. For 2 to 3

1 leek, carrot, onion and 3 sticks of celery - washed and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
A palm full of black peppercorns
Jerusalem artichokes- 500g, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
Milk to cover the artichokes
Risotto rice - 300g
Banana shallot - 1 large one, peeled and very finely chopped
Brown crab meat - 100g
White crab meat - 100g
White wine - 1 small glass (nothing too acidic, like a muscadet)
Parsley - 1 small bunch leaves separated from stems and finely chopped
Garlic - 1 small clove, finely chopped
Butter - 50g, cubed
Salt and white pepper

First make your stock. Boil a litre of water and simmer the leek, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns and the crab/prawn shells if using. After 1/2 hour or so, drain the stock through a sieve pressing the detritus to extract all the flavour. Discard the veg - they have done their work.

Peel the artichokes then slice to the thickness of a pound coin. Toss immediately in a bowl of water and lemon juice - this stops them blackening. When you have peeled and chopped them all, drain the artichokes and transfer to a pan. Just cover with milk and bring gently to the simmer. Blip away until they are very soft, maybe 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the milk. Puree the artichokes in a blender with a little of the milk to allow the blender blades to catch. Set the puree and reserved milk aside. Return the vegetable stock to the simmer.

In a large pan gently fry the shallot and garlic in half the butter. When translucent but not browned, chuck in the rice and fry for a couple of minutes tossing the rice in the butter. Add the wine and bubble to nothing, then ladle in the reserved milk from the cooking of the artichokes and 2/3 the artichoke puree. Stirring continuously, the milk should begin to absorb into the rice. Season lightly with salt and pepper then add the hot stock - ladle by ladle - as it is absorbed. After about 20 minutes the rice should be almost cooked but sill have a little bite, you may not need all the stock. Take the risotto off the heat and add the brown crab meat and the remainder of the butter. Allow the risotto to rest for a few minutes. Give it a good stir and check the seasoning and flavour. You can add more artichoke puree if you feel it needs it. To check you have the correct consistency for the risotto, draw a spoon across the base of the pan to make a furrow in the risotto. A thick creamy juice should just ooze from the rice. Try to manage your stock ladling whilst cooking - little and often is the way to go.

Plate up in warm bowls topping with the white crab meat and parsley. 

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