Squid Ink Risotto with Cuttlefish and Artichokes

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I never thought that I would have the nerve to use squid ink in any meal. My husband has used it before, but it was usually prepackaged and not torn from the insides of a squid or a cuttlefish like this one was, but I was at the market the other day and I saw seppie nere and I knew that if I passed this opportunity up, I would never try it again.

I decided that I would make a risotto with the cuttlefish and the ink that the fishmonger begrudgingly set aside for me as he cleaned the fish. I also bought 4 small, nameless fish, meant for frying, to make a broth with. I can’t ever bring myself to use bouillon cubes and always make my own broth for soups and for risotto. It takes time, but very little effort. I picked up 2 medium sized artichokes to put in the risotto, carnaroli rice and a box of tavernello (Italy’s favorite wine to cook with).

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Risotto is strictly Northern Italian, you will find it at the table of Southern Italian homes and in restaurants, but my husband believes that you have to have the Po river running in your blood in order to know how to make it, or in his case, washed your hands in the Po.

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It is important to use Italian rice, there are about 140 different varieties of rice grown in Northern Italy, the most common being Arborio which you can find in any American supermarket, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are also available and considered to be of higher quality. Italian rice is generally a round medium grain rice with a high starch content which is why risotto becomes so creamy.

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Now that it is colder outside I will be making risotto more often, I realize that this is the first recipe that I am posting.

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Squid Ink Risotto with Cuttlefish and Artichokes

  • 1 lb cuttlefish, cleaned with ink sacks removed and set aside
  • 1 squid-ink pouch
  • 2 medium artichokes
  • ½ an onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 cup of carnaroli or Arborio rice (Italians measure rice by demitasse cups, 1 cup for each person and one for the pot)
  • 4½ cups fish broth (recipe to follow)
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • salt to taste

Rinse cuttlefish under cold water and cut into medium-sized pieces. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and add the whole cloves of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add cuttlefish and stir, after about a minute add 1 cup of white wine and cover, reducing the heat to medium-high.

In the meantime clean the artichokes by eliminating their outer leaves; you can do this by bending them and snapping them off. Do this until you get to the leaves that are lighter in color.  Cut off the tip of the central cone, to eliminate the tougher green end of the leaves. Cut the heart in half and scoop out the inside chokes with a knife or a small spoon. Cut the heart of the artichoke into thin slices and immerse in the lemon water. If your artichokes have stems, cut the stem off and peel it of its outer skin. Add artichokes to the pan with the cuttlefish, stir frequently and keep covered.

The artichokes and cuttlefish should simmer for at least 20 minutes before you start with the risotto. Discard the garlic before stirring into the risotto.

Chop onion into fine pieces and bring the fish broth to a simmer.

Heat a large stovetop casserole pan over medium-high heat and melt butter at the bottom of the pan, covering the pan. When the butter is melted add onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add rice and coat it in the butter, toasting it a bit. When the rice becomes opaque, after about 1 minute add a cup of wine to the pan, enough to cover the rice, stir frequently.

When the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladleful of broth to the pan and continue stirring. Once the rice starts to absorb the broth add the cuttlefish and artichoke mixture to the pan. Add ink pouch to the pan and stir. Continue adding the broth as the rice absorbs it, you want it to almost dry out before adding the broth each time.

When the rice is finished it should be al dente and all of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from heat and toss chopped parsley in. Serve immediately.

fish broth

  • 4 small fish, cleaned
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 2 stalk of celery, cleaned
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups of water
  • pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil, let boil until the fish has fallen apart and the carrot seemed to be cooked through, strain with a sieve into another pot and set aside for risotto.


I couldn’t help but put this recipe in my post, this is from a lovely book of recipes by one of my favorite writers, Norman Douglas who wrote a number of anthropological travel journals and novels at the beginning of the 20th century. I love the way that he writes his recipes, though I didn’t follow his method.

Black Risotto from Venus in the Kitchen or Love’s Cookery Book; edited by Norman Douglas

Clean well half a pound of cuttlefish, keeping apart the little bag containing the ink. Cut the fish into small pieces and leave then in fresh water for half an hour.

Chop fine a big onion, two cloves of garlic, half a red pimento; add pepper and alt. Put these in a saucepan with three spoonfuls of fine olive oil. Fry. When the onion is getting brown, throw in the fish and let cook till it gets yellow. Then add half a pound of chopped spinach and let it cook for thirty minutes. Add then a pound of rice and the little bags from the fish which contain the ink, mix well with a wooden spoon in order to break the bags and pour in little by little some hot water with diluted tomato sauce in it. When the rice is cooked, add a piece of butter and some Parmesan cheese. The rice must absorb all the liquid and be nearly dry if you want to have a good risotto nero.


~ by italicious on November 12, 2008.

One Response to “Squid Ink Risotto with Cuttlefish and Artichokes”

  1. Good idea for using squid ink, something I normally discard. I like the color of the risotto, even more interesting than the woody brown you get with wild mushrooms. The addition of artichokes is a nice touch! Sounds delish….

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