- 8 ounces (cleaned weight) baby squid, optional
- 1 quart vegetable broth (can, carton, or cube is fine), preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons regular olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 1/4 cups risotto rice
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 sachets squid ink
- 1 fresh red or green chile, seeded and finely chopped
- Pepper to taste
- Small handful chopped fresh parsley (approx. 2 tablespoons)
I have said that I usually use white wine or dry white Vermouth in a risotto, but I must concede that the recipes here don't appear to bear this out. I've got an excuse with this one, too: the whole point of this risotto is that it's black, tinted by the squid ink (the squink of my title) and I had no desire to lessen its impact with some pallid white wine. But it's not just a question of colour: the squid ink is so richly, headily flavored that nothing less than a robust red would stand up to it.
As strange as it might sound for so exotic a dish, this may even pass muster as a storecupboard standby. The rice, the broth and the squid ink (it comes in sachets, from a good fishmonger or Italian deli, or online source) can be kept easily. I have marked the squid-ring topping as optional, but even that can live in the freezer for a few months.
While I am more than happy to eat it plain black, I can't help feeling cheered by the jaunty tricolore adornment provided by the squid rings, red chile pepper and parsley. Not that I'm being cheered is altogether the point of such a beautiful, sombre dish, the perfect date meal for Goths.
Cut the squid (if using) into thin rings and set aside while you get on with the risotto.
Heat the broth until almost boiling, and keep the broth warm in a saucepan on the lowest heat
Warm the 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and soften the sliced scallions for 2 minutes on a low heat. Keep stirring and don't let them burn. Grate in the garlic and turn up the heat. Toss in the rice and turn it in the oil and so it is slicked and shiny. Pour in the red wine and let it bubble up over the rice.
Wearing disposable vinyl gloves, snip in the squid ink and carefully dunk the squeezed out sachets into the separate pan of hot broth to get out any remaining ink. Then add and keep adding ladlefuls of hot broth to the rice, letting one ladleful be absorbed before adding the next, stirring all the while.
When the rice has had 15 minutes, you can be less assiduous on the stirring front and get on with the squid, if you're using this. In a frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil and the chile, until sizzling, then add the squid rings and cook, stirring or shaking the pan a little, for 3 minutes. Season with ground pepper, to taste.
By this time, the black risotto should be ready, so divide it between warmed shallow bowls or plates, top with chile and squid, if using, and scatter with parsley.
From NIGELLA KITCHEN by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2010 Nigella Lawson. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.