Saffron is a match made ingredient for pairing with sweet, smokey mussels. Here, the heady spice is the backbone of this otherwise simple risotto. The key for the deliciousness of any risotto always lies in the quality of the rice and the stock, so make sure to seek out the best quality you can! Risotto, just like pasta, is best when served al dente. In the case of rice, this means that the grain should feel soft but should maintain the sublest toothsomeness.
This recipe makes enough risotto to feed 4 people for a moderate meal. One tin of mussels is perfect to be shared between two, so please feel free to use another tin if you’re feeding more mouths.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced
Sea salt to season
½ teaspoon (35-40 threads) saffron
1 cup risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
¾ cup dry white wine
3½ cups seafood or vegetable stock
⅓ cup finely grated parmesan
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-2 tin Ekone smoked mussels
A small pinch smoked chili flakes
Place a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. When the butter has melted and the oil is quite warm, add the onion and a small pinch of salt. Cook the onion until soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bloom the saffron threads by soaking them in a tablespoon of hot water. Set aside for later use. Place a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the stock. When the stock is steaming hot, lower the heat to the lowest setting.
When the onion is irresistibly sweet and fully softened, add the rice and stir to coat the grains. Add the wine and the soaked saffron threads, alongside all of their soaking liquid. Give everything a good stir, and simmer until the rice has absorbed most of the wine. Add 2 generous ladlefuls of the stock and allow it to come up to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally, and cook until the rice has soaked up all but the smallest puddle of liquid. Add another couple of ladlefuls of broth, and repeat the same process (stir, simmer, stir, ladle - always making sure the rice has soaked up all but the dregs of each addition of liquid before adding more) until you’re almost out of broth and the rice is just al dente. This process usually takes 20-25 minutes, but depends on your rice and the temperature of the stock. When the rice is cooked to your liking, add the parmesan, another tablespoon of butter, the lemon juice, and the smallest ladleful of stock. Gently stir to incorporate, and taste for seasoning.
Place a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a small pinch of smoked chili flakes, and the tin (or two) of smoked mussels to the pan. Heat until the mussels are fully warmed through.
To serve, spoon the warmed mussels onto individual plates of risotto and finish with a small drizzle of the chili seasoned oil in the pan.