There were a number of upsides to making the trip down to Dorset to shoot the new Winter collection on Julius Roberts, aka @telltalefood. One the one hand, Dorset is a gem of a county - rural, bucolic, quaint and charming, all folded into shallow green valleys that couldn't be more English. Then there's Julius himself, kind, welcoming, passionate about his work, and more than a dab hand around the kitchen.
Despite making him put on and take off over a dozen or so outfits throughout the entire day, he also served up an absolute stonker of a meal for supper - crab risotto - using fresh Devon crab and ingredients he had around his garden. It was too good to keep to ourselves so we persuaded him to share the recipe with you all. It's a hearty, unctuous dish but still quite delicate thanks to the crab, tomatoes and lemon. Trust us, you'll love it.
Julius's crab, saffron and tomato risotto
1 white onion finely diced
300g cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of grated garlic
350g risotto rice
250g picked crab, white and brown meat
800ml quality fish stock, warm and well-seasoned
A generous bunch of parsley, finely chopped
A pinch of dried chilli
A pinch of saffron
Glass of white wine
Start by putting the saffron in a teacup and covering with an inch of boiling water, leave to infuse for 15 mins. Next fry the onion in a heavy based pan with 40g of the butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Season well with salt and cook on a low heat until the onion is sweet and tender. Then add the risotto rice and coat in the butter, being careful not to brown. Fry the rice gently for a few minutes to toast the grains. Then pour in the white wine, mix well and cook off the alcohol. Follow with the saffron and its water and allow the rice to absorb this before pouring in the first ladle of fish stock. Mix well and only add the next ladle once the first has been absorbed. Repeat this process, stirring often so that the risotto doesn’t catch, for around 20 minutes until the rice is well cooked but still has a little bite.
While adding the stock you can crack on with the tomatoes and crab… this is to be stirred through the rice once it's ready. In a saucepan throw in the cherry tomatoes with a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt and dried chillis, heat gently until the tomatoes begin to burst, then add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes until it infuses the tomato. Add a generous splash of fish stock and cook for a few minutes until the tomato is thick and saucy, then turn off the heat and add the picked crab. Mix well until the brown meat dissolves into the sauce making it wonderfully thick. Taste to check your seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Finally when the rice is ready pour in the crab and tomato. Add the remaining 20g of butter and stir vigorously, really beating the risotto so that it emulsifies and thickens. It should be quite wet, but wonderfully unctuous and rich in flavour. To finish, grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in a 1/3rd of the juice. Add the chopped parsley and mix well. Taste one final time to make sure it’s just right… serve and tuck in immediately.