ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Final Meal 2018 - L'Escargot Risotto Noir

It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming; Football's coming home...

Well, it was until Wednesday evening anyway. But England can take heart from the fact that this time nobody expected them to do a whole lot, and a valiant semi-final exit is a decent achievement. (Indeed their pair of losses to Belgium in the Group stage and 3rd place play-off suggest that, perhaps 'overachievement' might be a better word!)

Black risotto with snails

What it does mean is that this years 'Final Meal' now has to be a fusion of French and Croatian dishes, which is a shame because after Trippier's free kick I was planning for a Bouillabaisse Pie with Roquefort mash. Surely a future classic, no?

But we'll make the best of the situation with a bit of cuttlefish ink and a few snails and, who knows, it might even be vaguely edible.

(If you haven't been keeping up with the tradition, the 2014 World Cup saw the creation of Black Forest Churrasco, while Euro 2016 - Portugal vs France, of course - lent itself to the Peri Peri Croque Monsieur. This lark began back in the 2012 Euro finals when Spain took on Italy and I gave you Gnocchi Bravas.)

So, here we go then.  2018's 'Final Meal'...

L'Escargot Risotto Noir

Black Risotto, made with Cuttlefish and/or Squid and their ink is something of a Croatian classic - this dish adds a french twist with snails and a generally Gallic approach to the seasoning profile.

Ingredients - makes about four starter portions or two main courses:

Risotto rice, 8 oz
Squid or cuttlefish pieces, about 10 oz
Onion, 1 medium, very finely chopped
Inky grains
Garlic, about 4 cloves, smushed
Fish stock, about 2/3 pint
White wine, a large glass
Squid or cuttlefish ink, about a shot glass worth
Herbes de Provence
Black Pepper
Oil for cooking

Snails, 12-16 (it's almost impossible to buy snails that aren't already prepared and stuffed with garlic butter, so we'll assume we're all using these)

To serve:

Chilli Oil


Soften the onion and garlic in a little oil on a medium heat, before adding the squid and frying it gently for a few minutes.

Add the risotto grains, along with the pepper and herbs, and maybe a little extra butter, then the ink, ensuring that the rice is nicely coated and dyed.

The process from here on in is pretty much like any risotto, only, well, blacker! Keep adding hot stock a little at a time, and occasionally add a little wine or a knob of butter. For as long as it remains 'hungry', or perhaps that should be 'thirsty', the grains will absorb anything you add to the pan.

Gloopy mess...
(It's probably worth mentioning that the combination of squid, ink and fish stock will result in some incredibly fishy aromas, so avoid the temptation to make obvious jokes if there are ladies present.)

Now, after half an hour or so, or when the risotto has softened and it won't take any more liquid, it's time to transfer it to the oven and put the lid on. By this point, the jet black ink will have evolved into a shade of bluey-grey. I like to stir in a final generous slice of butter now for extra creaminess.

It's not always strictly necessary to oven-cook a risotto, but some people like to do this, and on this occasion it makes sense, because the snails are to be added at this stage - just place them on top of the risotto - and on a low heat in the oven will gently steam, as any excess stock or wine is spirited away to the angels, or the footballing Gods or whosoever wants to claim their ethereal share today.

I'd give the snails 15 more minutes to heat through (assuming they are the pre-cooked, already prepped variety) and then you're ready to plate up.

Serve with the snails decoratively arranged on top of a little pile of Black Risotto, drizzled with some chilli oil, thinking about what might've been, had football actually come home.

1 comment:

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