Black Heart Squid Ink Risotto
Updated: Jul 9, 2021
Picture the scene. It's a rainy Valentine's Day weekend in lockdown, and the Suit has disappeared into his room with a bottle of fizz and a transatlantic Zoom date, and my mind has wandered to the sachets of cuttlefish ink I'd bought earlier in the year...
This requires at least two pans and is a bit of a labour of self-love as a dinner for one, or an aesthetically pleasing treat for two (although if you're in the mood for love you should be aware that ink may temporarily stain teeth).
Either way, it's a deeply sexy dish. I grated bottarga over mine because I had just finished Nigella's Cook, Eat, Repeat and it's a wonder ingredient, but lemon zest, chilli flakes or anything else that doesn't cost 17 quid would do the trick. The world is, as they say, your squid.
75g Arborio rice
c.250ml white wine, plus a few glasses for the chef
4g sachet of squid or cuttlefish ink
1 finely chopped shallot
2 fat garlic cloves (minced, grated or finely chopped)
1 squid, cleaned by the fishmonger unless you're feeling pro
2 knobs of butter
small handful of finely chopped parsley
Optional extras: bottarga/chilli flakes/lemon zest
fish stock cube (vegetable will also be fine)
Slice your squid with a sharp knife, into two piles. One pile should be little pieces of the hood, cut in thin strips roughly an inch long. The other pile should be the tentacles and, if you like, a couple of rings from the hood.
Add a little olive oil to a saucepan that can take the pile of squid strips and sauté the strips with one garlic clove and plenty of salt and pepper. When it's just seared, add c.100ml of the wine and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the squid is very tender (adding wine or water as you see fit) - this might be as much as 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt one knob of butter on a low-medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and add the shallot.
Put the kettle on for about 250ml of hot water.
When the shallot is translucent, add the rest of the garlic and mix. Add the rice and toast until opaque.
Pour in the rest of the wine with the zest of your lemon - reserving a small amount for garnishing if you like - and stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the sachet of ink and stir to combine.
Mix the stock cube with the hot water, then add a ladleful to the rice pan. Allow it to be absorbed, then add it ladleful by ladleful, ensuring each is absorbed before the next. This might take about 20 minutes.
Pan-fry the tentacles in olive oil, salt and pepper.
When the rice is al dente, stir through the braised squid and the parsley, and check for seasoning. Add as much juice of your lemon, salt and pepper as you like.
Stir through the second knob of butter.
Plate up the risotto and top it with the tentacles and any garnishes you fancy. Pour yourself a large glass of wine, sit yourself down and eat as you gaze lovingly at your significant other (whether human or the Netflix screen).