When Alexander the Great brought rice to Europe, he did not imagine the stir it would cause: along with pasta, it is one of the most versatile and widely consumed products in the world. The characteristics of the Mediterranean coasts favored its cultivation, making it one of the great favorites on the menu in countries such as Spain and Italy.
Legend has it that a young Italian chef, eager to surprise his girlfriend – and we suspect, jealous of Spanish paella – came up with a very creamy rice recipe for the wedding banquet. With its golden color, its perfect doneness and the intense flavor of saffron, it conquered not only the palate of the future wife, but also that of the guests.
From this moment, the dish that we know today as risotto became popular, until it became known and respected throughout the current gastronomic universe. There is no closed ingredient recipe for making risotto, which is why there are as many variations as the chefs’ imagination allows. For this version, we have opted for seasonal products such as mackerel, an oily fish that presents very high quality nutritional characteristics, and the last spinach of the season. The acidic and aromatic touch of lemon combines perfectly.
The key to a good risotto is not to stray from the casserole at any time. You have to be stirring the rice without stopping and adding broth little by little and whenever you ask, that is, when it has been absorbed. Along with this, an important point is to cook with butter and finish with a good pile of Parmesan cheese that melts and elevates the preparation to the moon. It is a dish that everyone likes and that, like that young boyfriend, will leave all diners speechless with the green hope it gives off.
The one to spend 15 minutes stirring the rice.
For 2 persons
- 220 g of rice
- 1, 2 l fish broth
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 100 g of fresh spinach (and 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 of salt to cook them)
- 1 serving mackerel (about 300 g whole)
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 leek
- ½ glass of white wine
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 20 g of cured cheese
Clean the mackerel, or ask them to do it at the fishmonger. Remove the two loins, remove the spines with tweezers and reserve the belly, head and central spine to make a broth. You have to remove a thin and transparent cloth that has the mackerel on top of the skin: carefully, stick the tip of a knife and gradually pull until it comes off completely. If it is fresh, the beautiful blue skin that the mackerel has will remain intact.
To make the broth, starting from cold water, cook the remains of the mackerel and the green part of the leek for 20 minutes (at the beginning of cooking you have to remove the impurities that come to the surface). Turn off the heat and let it rest for 20 more minutes. Strain.
On the other hand, put water to boil in a saucepan with a teaspoon of sugar and another of salt. Bring to the boil and add the spinach and parsley to fix their chlorophyll for 20 seconds. Transfer to a bowl with water and ice with a teaspoon of salt and another of sugar (same method). Drain leaving as little water as possible and blend until an intense green sauce is left.
Add a tablespoon of butter to a nonstick skillet. Add the minced garlic and the white of the diced leek. Season with a pinch of salt, add a bay leaf and fry on very low heat for 15-20 minutes until they turn transparent, over low heat. We don’t want it to brown, just to have it poached very well.
When they are perfectly poached, with the heat always low, add the rice and mix everything well for a couple of minutes. Then, pour over the white wine and keep stirring without stopping until all the alcohol is absorbed and evaporated. Do the same with the lemon juice.
Pour the hot fish stock into saucepans and very little by little, stirring the rice as all the liquid is absorbed. Do not separate from the casserole until ready, always over medium heat.
You are looking for a creamy texture and a grain at its point. Neither hard, nor past: it will take about 17 minutes from when we start to spin.
At the last minute, add the spinach and parsley green sauce. Raise the heat, while stirring, until the resulting water evaporates. Put salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and grate the cured cheese – it can be Parmesan, Pecorino or Manchego – and also a little lemon peel.
When the rice is done, iron the mackerel on high heat. To do this, and so that it does not wrinkle, we will have to chisel the part of the skin: make small cuts without reaching the end in the form of a grid, as seen in the photos. Add a teaspoon of oil to a frying pan and, over very high heat, cook for 20 seconds on the skin side. If you are going to leave it a little raw, I recommend that you freeze it previously for a week to avoid anisakis problems.
Serve, covering the base with the risotto, on which the mackerel loin will go lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and serve.
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