Risotto with Cacciatore and Cavalo Nero

I’m a big fan of cabbage. Always have been – was brought up having no argument eating it. One of my favourite recent discoveries is the Italian variety cavalo nero or Tuscan cabbage. The long stems hold beautiful dark leaves packed with goodness – they’re great just boiled or steamed as a simple side dish, but also great used as the main ingredient. This risotto dish is just perfect for the leaves. Rich, creamy and incredibly tasty. As with any risotto, be careful to give the final dish a smooth, souplike consistency over being too dry – it’ll make for a lighter, less stodgy meal. Alongside the salty hits of caciatore, this risotto is the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s day.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup onion (finely diced)
1/2 cup cacciatore sausage (finely diced)
2 slices prosciutto (chopped)
3 tablespoons butter
Extra virgin olive oil
200g arborio rice
250g cavalo nero cabbage
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1/2 litre chicken stock
Salt & pepper
1 cup Parmesan cheese (finely grated)

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium pan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil, meanwhile, strip the leaves from the cavalo Nero and discard the stems. Roughly chop the leaves. When the water boils add the leaves and the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, take out the leaves and garlic and place into a food processor along with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Blend to a smooth paste and set aside.

Pour the chicken stock into the cabbage cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting – just to keep the stock hot

In a deep frying pan, over a moderate heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with a drizzle of olive oil until bubbling hot. Add the onion and gently fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cacciatore and fry for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir briefly to coat everything. Now add 2 ladlefuls of stock and stir in well. Add another when the liquid reduces, and repeat this process, stirring all the time for about 10-12 minutes until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite. Stir in the cavalo nero purée and a little more stock and bring to a simmer. Stir for 30 seconds, the overall consistency should be creamy and runny. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Season with salt & pepper to your taste and serve.

Serving:
Serve on it own, sprinkled with parmesan, black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I served mine with a glass (or two) of Chiante!

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