My heavy-based casserole pot sits on top of the stove even when it's not in use. It's covered in cooking stains, burnished marks that each tell a story...Vegetable laden curries, pot-roasted chicken complete with potatoes, cream and mustard, and slow-cooked lamb shanks have all added their splotches and splatters over time.
In the early hours of the morning, at least once, if not twice a week she warms her insides up in the heat of the oven. Waiting patiently to cocoon the soft, pillow-like sourdough rounds that have been resting on the bench.
She also makes the most perfect vessel to serve whatever it is that has been prepared in her, picked up from the stove and taken straight over to the table so that everyone can serve themselves. This is how I love to share meals, be it with a table full of special people or simply just the 4 of us. For me, it shows the abundant love that has been poured or stirred into the meals I create, just like this warming seafood meal.
The orange-hued oil seeps out from the chorizo. Mussels, prawns, calamari and large chunks of fish follow. Fennel seeds, tomatoes, risoni. A splash of white wine, a scattering of peas, the juice of a lemon. Taken to the table, serving spoon in hand, fresh bread at the ready and a chunk of parmesan to the side. The open fire flickers as the rain falls softly, sending slow-moving trails down the fogged up windows. This is winter and what better way to fully embrace her icy conditions than warming up with a bowl full of this comforting, nourishing meal.
Fennel, chorizo & marinara risoni
1 chorizo sausage, casing removed and sliced lengthways, then sliced into half-moons
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
500g marinara mix
1 tin crushed tomatoes (i love using Mutti)
350g risoni (or a mix of rice and risoni also works well too)
1/4 cup white wine
1-litre chicken stock
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen peas
a knob of butter
zest and juice of a lemon
a handful of parsley, chopped
Parmesan for serving
In a large heavy-based casserole, with a lid, add the chorizo and cook over medium heat until the oils release and it's just starting to colour. Remove from the pan and set aside. Leaving the oils behind.
Add the olive oil and the red onion and cook until softened, now add the fennel seeds and the garlic cloves and continue to cook until fragrant.
Now you can add the seafood and cook for 5 minutes or so. Pour in the tomatoes and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Pour this mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Place the pot back over the heat, now you can add the risoni along with another glug of olive oil, stir it all together so that it's coated in the remaining sauce. Add the white wine and cook until reduced. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed by the rice/risoni, stirring so as to make sure that the rice/risoni is not sticking to the bottom.
Add the seafood mix back into the pot now along with the chorizo, peas and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir through the butter, lemon zest and juice and the parsley and season to taste. Pop the lid on and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve with a generous grating of parmesan, a crisp garden salad and fresh bread with lashings of butter.