I’ve been in France for the last couple of weeks having a much needed break from the daily grindstone, but I am back refreshed and ready to cook bigger and better dishes. I found the last couple of months tough in the blogging world as I was trying to fit it in when I got back from work (about 8pm) and it had all been a bit of a rush and it even started to lose the appeal very slightly. I know that when I have the time I love to do this so I have changed and will now aim to blog on a lazy Sunday when there is much more time.
By complete chance, considering I was a short drive from there for the last couple of weeks (I promise the country draw is always random), I drew Monaco. Monaco is a Principality smothered by France but only 16k from Italy. I am prepared to be corrected here, but I understand a Principality to be a Country which is run by a Prince whereas Sovereign States are usually referred to as Countries….so they are effectively the same and therefore count in my quest to cook a dish from every country.
We were on holiday in Provence which is a region in Southern France which stretches from Arles (where we were) in the West to the other side of Monaco in the East, so whilst I believe that technically Monaco can’t be in Provence as it isn’t in France, it effectively is as it is surrounded by the region.
It was quite difficult to find a specifically Monégasque dish so I created one using a bit of artistic licence. I will explain my thinking. Monaco is on the coast so it needed seafood in it, it is close to Italy so I could use Italian influences (Risotto) and it is surrounded by/ in Provence so I use the name. There is a Risotto a la Provence which exists with many recipes online, but that has courgette and meat in it which to me didn’t quite suit Monaco so I have used the name but changed it to my take on it.
For anyone who hasn’t done it before, making a risotto is very relaxing – as long as you have the time. You can’t really leave it alone for more than about a minute so I tend to pour a glass of wine, put the sport on the radio and chill standing at the hob. Before starting to cook you need to have the stock boiling in a pan on the hob with a ladle at hand. Once the stock is boiling, in a separate pan start to sweat off the shallots in some butter. After about 15 minutes of gentle sweating I added some garlic and let that go for 5 more. At this point I added the white wine and let it boil furiously for a minute until the alcohol had burned off. I added another tbsp of butter and then the rice. The rice should immediately absorb all the liquid in the pan and this is when it gets relaxing. Every minute or so as the rice starts to get too dry in the pan you ladle a little stock in. It will keep getting dry and you need to keep hydrating it with more stock. The whole process will take about 30 minutes on a medium heat but after 20 minutes I added the scallops as they needed some cooking and towards the end, when I could tell the rice was nearly done as it had plumped up, I chucked in the pre-cooked mussels and asparagus as they just needed warming through. The final consistency should be rich and creamy despite having no cream in it. Some people add cream at the end I think it is a bit of overkill and makes it too rich. I would suggest only doing that if you were having it as a starter as you could have a tiny portion.
The final dish tastes great. I make it a lot. Here is an photo to show how I set up my pots. It’s easy to make so do it.
- 500 G Rice
- 1.5 Litres Fish Stock
- 5 Shallots
- 4 TBSP butter
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 200g Muscles
- 200g Scallops
- 200g Pre-Blanched Asparagus