One-Handed Cooking: Saffron-Prawn Risotto

A freak accident last week left me with the ring finger of my right hand in a splint, and  strict instructions from the doctor to not use it for 4 weeks.  Yeah. That’s fun.  No showers, no washing my hair, no picking up or grabbing onto anything with my right hand, no writing, typing, painting, no doing dishes, no cooking. Basically, no stress on that finger at all.

NO COOKING? Cue the scream. Time to get creative.

Being naturally and fully ambidexterrous, writing and painting turned out to be easy to do. My printing is more legible with my left hand anyway, so that’s not a problem.  Typing takes longer with one hand, but it’s doable, and for the first time, I’m taking advantage of the microphone typing function on my iPad. I’m working on a seascape in oils with my left hand right now, and it’s coming out quite well. It’s the fact I can’t use both hands for everything that threw me for a loop.

What concerned me the most was how on earth I was going to feed my family.  The Hubs has been very helpful, grilling meat and vegetables for dinner the past week, but we were getting bored with the monotony. When my boys expressed an interest in risotto for dinner, I decided to make up a recipe that I can make with one hand.

I opened the spice cupboard and the first thing I saw was saffron and oregano.  Yum. Now, what doesn’t need chopping? Prawns. Ready-sliced mushrooms. Canned diced tomatoes. Rice. My son even offered to mince the shallots for me, and grate the pecorino so I don’t need to buy the ready-made versions of both. I can handle the stirring.  The result was a creamy, oh-so-delicious risotto with a delicate saffron taste, and is incredibly easy. With two hands, it will be even easier.

Saffron-Prawn Risotto:

Takes either one hour on the stove, or 35 minutes with a pressure cooker. Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side dish

3 large shallots, minced

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 small can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 cup white wine (two 1/2 cup increments)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 t ground saffron

1/2 t dried oregano

1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

6 bottles clam juice (you will use 5 1/2 cups)

1 pound giant prawns, deveined and shelled (tails on)

1 cup grated pecorino cheese (if desired)

First, make the sauce.

You sauté half the shallots in a medium saucepan in olive oil for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add mushrooms, and sauté until browned. Add 1/2 cup of the white wine and boil until reduced by half. Add tomatoes, heavy cream, saffron and oregano. Boil 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Add prawns and cook until pink – about 2 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste – remember, the clam juice will be salty, so don’t go overboard. Remove from heat and set aside, stirring occasionally.

Now the risotto..

Pour oil into large Dutch oven and sauté the remaining shallots on medium heat- about 2 minutes. Add the rice and more oil if necessary,  and stir until rice is coated and golden brown. Add the remaining white wine and stir until evaporated.

One cup at a time, add the clam juice, stirring until it is absorbed. This process can take 20-25 minutes, or you can do what I do – – add all the clam liquid at once and cook in a pressure cooker at one ring for 7 minutes, and then use the cold water release method before opening the lid.

Once the rice is cooked, there will still be some liquid in the rice – you don’t want it dry.  Pour in the sauce and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice dish has a creamy consistency. Turn off heat and stir in pecorino cheese – with your left hand – and serve immediately.

I hope you will enjoy this as much as we did.

Now that I’ve had some success cooking with one hand, I’ll work up other recipes to keep us fed until this splint is off. This is really not so bad – I get out of doing dishes for a month, my stylist will be doing my hair twice a week, I can still paint, and now I can cook.

I can do this. Three weeks and counting.