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Werner’s porn risotto

Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 90 minutes Yield: 4

Werner's decadent sumptuous pornographic risotto

Werner Els – daughter Alex’s best friend – makes a mean risotto, and rumour has it, that it is mightily well thought of by many of the female persuasion, in the little valley where Werner plies his trade.

Restaurateur, sometime cellar manager, and generally right hand to Mark Dendy Young of that ‘little farm’ on the Franschhoek Pass, Werner has had ample opportunity to hone his skill over the years, and when he offered to visit the Man in the Kitchen last week and make his legendary porn (Oops, sorry! prawn) risotto, I sped off to my favourite fishmonger, Claudio Paioni at Seafood on Sail in Gant’s Centre, Strand to lay in a stock of prawns. Fortunately, they were on “sail” at the time.

Werner Els and the Man in the Kitchen in pornographic collaboration

Over a glass of wine we discussed our options, and planned the process from beginning to end. Risotto, you see, must be made and eaten, because it does not take kindly to standing around, or to being reheated.

What follows is Werner’s take on porn risotto. This is no Freudian slip, by the way. I’m given to understand that it is inclined to make many of the female persuasion weak at the knees, so accepting the premise that the way to a woman’s heart is through the kitchen, it was high time that we collaborated!

Ingredients, Selection and Preparation

1 onion: finely chopped.

30g butter

100ml dry vermouth: you could use dry white wine, and if you do, the one you plan to drink with the dish, but vermouth is infinitely better because of the richness and complexity of flavour it brings to the dish.

2 cloves garlic: fresh, crushed.

1 thumb-size piece of ginger: peeled and grated.

1 stick lemon grass: very finely sliced. Peel off the outer leaf if it desiccated, and slice only up to the start of the leafy bit. Discard the rest.

2 dried Shitake mushrooms: rehydrate them in a cup of boiling water then slice very thin, discarding the stalks.

15g sweet basil: roughly chopped.

300g Arborio rice: this is of course the real thing. It’s expensive – between R35 and R50 per kilogram, but the results justify the cost. The carbon footprint is another matter, however, since it is grown largely in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions of northern Italy, and to a lesser extent in California and Texas.

150g grated Paremsan: or Grana Padana, which is less expensive, plus some shavings for serving.

800g whole prawns: peel the prawns and devein if necessary. Place the heads and shells in a stock pot, and set the prawn meat aside in the fridge.

250g cherry tomatoes

200ml coconut milk

30ml whisky

2 Thai chillies: deseeded and finely sliced.

Zest of 1/3 of a lemon

Zest of 1/3 of an orange

Zest of 1/3 of a lime

2tbsp oil: peanut or canola, to fry the prawns.

(Stock Flavourants)

10 peppercorns

1 mace blade

1 bay leaf

1 sprig parsley

1 sprig thyme

2 leeks: trimmed and sliced lengthwise, white part only.

4 pearl onions: halved.

Method

Add two litres of water and the stock flavourants to prawn shells in the stock pot. Bring to the boil, skim, remove from the heat and cool for 30 minutes. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes, skimming periodically.

Strain the stock into a smaller saucepan and add the shitake mushroom water. Boil and reduce to no less than one litre of stock. The flavours will intensify as it reduces.

Heat a large flat saucepan and sweat the onion in the butter until translucent. Add the rice then stir until coated, and it begins to crackle.

Add the vermouth, and cook, stirring constantly until absorbed.

Stir in a clove of garlic and the sliced shitake mushroom.

Add the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring until completely absorbed between ladles.

Meantime, add the oil to a heated wok, with the prawns, a clove of garlic, the ginger, lemon grass,  chillies and the lemon, orange and lime zest. Stir fry until the prawns are opaque. Sprinkle over the whisky and flambé.

Add the coconut milk, stir in gently and cook for a minute or two.

By now your risotto should be rich, creamy and al dente. Stir in the grated cheese and basil,  followed by the contents of the wok and the cherry tomatoes. Mix gently and set aside for five minutes to “creamify”.

Serve with a crisp salad, and a food wine, like the 2007 Spier Vintage Collection Suavignon Blanc Chardonnay Viognier. Enjoy!

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Categories: Food, Provenance, Wine
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