the appetizer:

Italian Cooking at Home by the Culinary Institute of America includes recipes like Chickpea Fritters (Panissa fritta o panelle); Black Risotto (Risotto al nero di seppia); Broth (Brodo); and Stuffed Grilled Swordfish (Involtini di pesce spada).

Cookbook Profile

Black Risotto
(Risotto al nero di seppia)

Serves 6 to 8

Black Risotto


This risotto is an inky black color because of the ink found in the head of the cuttlefish (known in Italian as seppia and related to the squid and octopus). Used for centuries to write documents and for ink drawings, the ink is also a culinary ingredient and here creates a briny risotto.

1. To prepare the cuttlefish, cut off the head and the backbone. Peel the skin from the body and remove the inner organs. Look for the ink bag (it is located at one end of the body); remove it and set it aside on a plate. Cut the head in half and remove the mouth and the eye. Wash and dry all the fish, cut into thin strips, and set aside.

2. Bring the brodo to a boil and season it with salt; keep warm.

3. Over low heat in a large wide pan, melt half of the butter and sweat the shallots until very tender but not colored, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until each grain is translucent and hot. Be careful not to burn the shallots or scorch the rice.

4. Add the wine and cook until the wine is nearly cooked away, about 5 minutes. Add enough brodo to cover the rice by about 1/2 inch and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the brodo is absorbed. Add the brodo as needed and stir occasionally just to make sure the rice is not sticking on the bottom of the pan. The rice will take 10 to 12 minutes to cook to the point at which you will add the cuttlefish and ink.

5. While the risotto is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sweat the onion, garlic, and parsley for 3 minutes. Add the cuttlefish and toss it in the pan over high heat until it is just barely cooked, about 1 minute. Add the squid ink and about 1/2 cup of brodo. Gently simmer for 2 minutes. Add this mixture to the risotto after the risotto has been cooking for about 12 minutes.

6. Continue to cook the risotto until the rice is tender to the bite, another 7 or 8 minutes. When the risotto is done, remove the pan from the stove. Add the rest of the butter. Stir vigorously to create the characteristic creamy consistency. Serve at once, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano to add if desired.


Wine notes: Rice with cuttlefish creates a light dish, but one with intense flavors. choose a medium-bodied white with character that will match that intensity without overwhelming the subtle background flavors of the dish.

White: Soave or Chardonnay from Veneto; Friulano or Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli-Venezia Giulia; Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Tuscany; Vermentino di Sardegna or Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia


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This page created April 2011