Alfonso’s Risotto alla Marinara, A Rich Seafood Risotto

Alfonso's Risotto alla Marinara: Enjoy!

Alfonso’s Risotto alla Marinara: Enjoy!

Risotto alla Marinara is, as you might guess, a seafood risotto. Alfonso Borrelli, who cooks at the Osteria L’Antica Quercia in Barberino Valdelsa, uses clam broth and anchovies to add seafoody richness to his risotto alla marinara, while the main ingredients accompanying the rice are moscardini, a tiny variety of octopus, and radicchio rosso, a red radicchio from the Veneto, which confers pleasing bitter accents to the dish.

  • 320 g (A little more than 2 cups) Carnaroli rice — you could also use other short grained rices, e.g. Arborio
  • The leaves from a medium-sized head of radicchio, washed and dried
  • Clam broth — the broth from cooking clams for pasta sauce; Alfonso used 400 ml, or 1 3/5 cups
  • Half of a medium onion
  • 220 g (1/2 pound) Moscardini (tiny octopuses), simmered in lightly salted water until fork tender, about 30 minutes – you could also use tiny squid
  • Vegetable broth (see below)
  • Parsley
  • White wine
  • Olive oil
  • 4 canned anchovy fillets, rinsed

Alfonso began by setting a pot with about 3 quarts of water to boil, adding to it a peeled onion, cut in half, a carrot, peeled, and a celery stick, washed. It bubbled, and quickly became a pretty green. This sort of vegetable broth will work for almost any risotto, and will also be a nice addition to other dishes too.

While the broth bubbled, Alfonso peeled the onion and chopped half of it. He used a red onion in this case, but his choice of onion varies with the season. He also chopped the anchovy fillets — he figures one fillet per person — and a bit less than a quarter cup of parsley.

When he was done chopping, he heated about a third of a cup of olive oil in a broad skillet and sautéed the minced herbs, pressing down with the back of the spoon to break up the chopped anchovy, which disappeared into the oil.

It is important, he says, to turn down the heat some (the flame was still fairly brisk) upon adding the onion, and to watch it carefully, because it burns easily.

Alfonso's Risotto alla Marinara: Sautéing the Rice

Alfonso’s Risotto alla Marinara: Sautéing the Rice

Alfonso then added the rice and toasted it over a brisk flame for about three minutes, shaking the pan deftly to shift it about and keep it from burning.

Next, a cup of dry white wine, with further deft shakes until it had evaporated.

At this point Alfonso added the clam broth, which imparts the freshness of the sea, and said the risotto would be ready in 17-18 minutes.

He used the broth from fresh live clams that he then adds to fish-based pasta sauces, for example allo scoglio sauce, but you could also use the broth from frozen clams, setting them aside for another recipe that doesn’t call for clam broth, for example fried clams.

While the risotto was simmering, Alfonso finely julienned the radicchio leaves, setting aside some for garnishing, and then looked over the moscardini, selected four pretty ones and set them aside, and chopped the rest.

While he was doing this, he kept an eye on the risotto, and when the clam broth had been mostly absorbed (the risotto becomes a creamy yellow thanks to the clam broth, oil, and anchovies), added two large brimming ladles of vegetable broth, giving the pan a deft shake to stir it in.

When the liquid had been mostly absorbed Alfonso stirred in the chopped Moscardini.

He then added most of the Radicchio — he decided all was too much, and says to go by eye — and stirred again, tasting and adding another ladle of broth.

“When the final ladle is absorbed,” he says, “the risotto will be about done, and you should check seasoning.” He didn’t add salt, because there was salt from the anchovies, and also a little from the moscardini, or pepper, but did add a little minced parsley to provide flavor and color, sprinkled a little olive oil over the risotto, and cooked it for two minutes more.

While doing this, he also put the four moscardini he had set aside to warm in a bowl of hot water.

Next comes the plating: Alfonso divvied the risotto onto four plates, garnished it with a little radicchio, set one of the reserved moscardini atop each mound of risotto, drizzles a little olive oil over each, and his risotto alla marinara was ready. And good, too.

This recipe, Illustrated

How to Make Risotto, Illustrated


Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Fish Risotti

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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