Prawn Risotto with Pernod

An excessive experience with Pernod on my 20th birthday put me off the stuff for life but on a recent trip to Santorini, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch overlooking the Aegean sea and John’s choice of prawn risotto with Pernod was absolutely gorgeous, to the point that I resolved to try and replicate the dish when we returned home. This is the result and it is really lovely: the Pernod just adds a wonderful depth of flavour that works perfectly with the prawns – simply delicious. 23 years later, I have also re-established a tentative relationship with this the anise-flavoured liqueur…. one that will remain firmly as a recipe ingredient and nothing more!

Serves 4

What you need…

Knob of butter

Splash of olive oil

2 banana shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

4 tomatoes, chopped

400ml white wine

4 tablespoons Pernod

400g Arborio rice

500ml hot chicken stock

100g frozen peas

Sea salt and black pepper

480g raw prawns, shelled

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

Parsley, chopped, to garnish

What to do…

Melt the butter and warm the oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots, garlic and fennel seeds and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.

Tip in the tomatoes and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until they start to break down a little.

Pour in the rice and stir so that it’s evenly covered.

Add half the wine and all of the Pernod. Stir continuously until most of the liquid is absorbed and then add the rest of the wine, continuing to stir.

Reduce the heat to low and add the hot chicken stock one ladle at a time, stirring it in and ensuring each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next one – this is the bit that takes the time – chatting and gentle wine-slurping encouraged during this process.

When you have just a couple of ladles of stock left, tip in the peas and then finish adding the stock as before, until it has all been absorbed.

Season with sea salt and black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if required.

Add the prawns and stir them in gently until they are just turning from grey to pink. Stir in the crème fraiche and then turn off the heat and pop on the saucepan lid and just walk away for 2 minutes – this final touch just finishes the risotto rice off beautifully.

Serve on warmed plates or bowls, garnished with parsley. Enjoy and just imagine the sun sparkling on the Aegean sea – lovely!

Tip…

I use frozen and chopped garlic as well as shallots from the Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients range: saves a lot of faffing about.

Inspired by…

A little restaurant in Santorini and the best ingredients from a selection of googled recipes.

How easy…

Very easy but you need to have time on your hands: risotto is not a dish to be rushed – it’s a slow and gentle process, best accompanied by a glass of white wine and someone to chat to.

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