Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crab, pea and broad bean risotto

Serves 4 as a starter

We got our first new season's peas from France a couple of days ago, and apart from podding them straight into your mouth and eating without delay, I can think of fewer better ways to enjoy them than folding them into this gorgeous risotto just at the last minute. By boiling the rice to begin with speeds up making a risotto. This doesn't make it any less authentic and cuts the stirring time down significantly.

650ml light chicken or vegetable stock
200g risotto rice
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
3 tblsp olive oil
50ml dry white wine
1 tblsp crème fraîche or mascarpone
1 tblsp freshly grated Parmesan
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tblsp brown crab meat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of basil leaves, shredded
150g mix of peas and broad beans
100g white crab meat
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Aged balsamic vinegar, to serve

Pour about a third of the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Tip in the rice and blanch for 4 minutes. Drain well, then tip onto a tray. Spread to an even layer and leave to cool. Transfer to the fridge and chill until ready to use. Reserve the remaining stock.

In a medium saucepan, sweat the onion gently in 3 tblsp of oil for 5 minutes or until softened without browning. Pour in the wine to deglaze and cook until the alcohol has evaporated and the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.

Meanwhile, bring the reserved stock to a simmer. Stir the blanched rice into the onion and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the stock to the rice, a ladleful at a time, stirring well between each addition.

Once the rice grains are almost cooked through but still retain a bite, beat in the crème fraîche or mascarpone, Parmesan, lemon zest and brown crab meat. Remove from the heat, check for seasoning and leave to rest for at least 5 minutes with the lid on.

When you are ready to serve, stir in the basil, peas and broad beans and check for seasoning. Divide among warmed plates, sprinkle the white crab meat on top, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, followed by a few drops of balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper.


  1. Why blanch the rice? Seems like more work and surely rissoto cooked from start to finish is the purist method? Or is this a cheats method to cut down the cooking time in a busy service?

  2. Thanks Gary - shall keep you informed of risotto off results. Have fun in Ad and hope to see you soon in HK ! Charley

  3. Doh!!!just read the first bit properly now... still surley the purist would cook from start to finish!

  4. Dearest Pappa Cod.... should you be a purist with no family to juggle, shopping to buy, kids to feed, job to do, dog to walk, grass to mow, teeth to brush and laundry to wash.... you go fill your boots by cooking this from the off. If you want to save a few minutes and still get the same result... BLANCH my friend!!

  5. are mascarpone and creme fraiche totally interchangeable, or do they result in a difference of taste and consistency?

  6. Hi Shirley, the significant differences between the two are that mascarpone can be taken to a higher temperature without fear of splitting and has a rounder coating texture, whereas the astringency of the creme fraiche gives a cleaner end flavour to the risotto. If I had a choice, I'd use mascarpone and finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice right at the end