Orzotto is risotto with barley instead of rice. It’s so much less fiddly than arborio rice because it doesn’t have to be cooked à la minute, making this yet another dish that can be prepared well in advance. All you need is to cook the prawns and reheat the orzotto ten minutes before serving.
You can make the prawn stock by boiling prawn shells and heads in enough water for about 10 minutes. Add bay leaves, onion, celery and carrot too, if you have any, to make the stock even tastier. If you don’t have white wine sitting around, try substituting with beer (the whole 330 ml bottle) or extra dry vermouth.
1.5 litres prawn stock
70 g butter
8 shallots, chopped
250 g barley
300 ml white wine
bunch parsley, chopped
prawns, shelled (as many as you can afford, about 4 per guest)
100 ml cream
- Heat the stock in a pot and keep at a gentle simmer.
- Melt the butter in a deep pan and gently cook the shallots till fragrant. Do not let them colour.
- Turn the heat up to medium and add the barley, stirring to coat each grain.
- Pour in the wine and stir constantly till the wine is almost all absorbed.
- Stir in a ladleful of hot stock and keep stirring vigorously till almost absorbing. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock and keep stirring. You can take a rest after about 10 minutes of stirring, just remember that the more you stir, the creamier it gets. The orzotto is ready when the barley grains are al dente, about 40 minutes. If you run out of stock, add hot water instead. Season to taste. Set aside at this point if you are making in advance.
- To finish the dish, melt a knob of butter in a pan and toss in the prawns. Cook over medium heat on both sides till the prawns are a bright coral pink. Off the heat, stir in the cream and season well with salt and pepper.
- To assemble, place a generous scoop of orzotto in a wide soup plate, top with the prawns and drizzle with the cream sauce.