Black risotto with cuttlefish recipe from ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’

Editor’s note – Tune in Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to watch all-new episodes of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.” If you missed the Season 2 premiere where Tucci explores Venice, you can watch it now on CNNgo.

(CNN) — Venice is a magical, mysterious and romantic place – but let’s talk about the elephant in the room: it has a reputation for eating poorly. Too many touristy places serving frozen pizza and spaghetti bolognese.

Chef Giovanni “Gianni” Scappin, who was born and raised in the city, was thrilled to prove that stereotype wrong when Stanley Tucci visited the capital of the Veneto region in the second season of “Stanley Tucci: in search of Italy”.
Scappin is Tucci’s old friend and co-author of “The Tucci Cookbook”. The pair met in 1996 when Scappin was the culinary adviser to “Big Night,” a drama about two brothers who run an Italian restaurant. Tucci was a writer and film star. These days, Scappin is chef and co-owner of Cucina in Woodstock and Market St. in Rhinebeck in New York’s Hudson Valley.

So what dish did Scappin choose to make with Tucci to showcase the best of the City of Canals and its surrounding lagoon? A Venetian classic: risotto with black ink and cuttlefish. Cuttlefish (sepia in Italian) is the cousin of the squid and the octopus.

Cuttlefish ink is a key ingredient.

“Precious ink is used to color the risotto black, making the dish as theatrical as Venice itself,” Tucci explained.

The black ink risotto with cuttlefish is so good that it is claimed by some neighboring countries as their invention. It is impossible to know for sure who created the dish, but in the Venetian cookbook the ink has been dry for a very long time.

(Left to right) Stanley Tucci and chef Giovanni “Gianni” Scappin are shown in a scene from “In Search of Italy”.

Matt Holyoak

Risotto with black ink and cuttlefish

(Risotto with Nero di Seppia)

Make 4 to 6 servings

If you want to add tomatoes to this dish, peeled tomatoes work well, or you can try passata di pomodoroor pureed tomatoes, available in Italian specialty stores or online on international gourmet sites.


extra virgin olive oil

1⁄2 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup | 26 grams; alternatively, use shallots)

1 clove garlic, sliced ​​or left whole then removed when cooking the cuttlefish

10.6 ounces | 300 grams of cuttlefish, the ink sacs gently removed and the meat cut into strips and/or 1-inch-wide squares

1 to 2 teaspoons | 5 to 10 milliliters of squid ink (about 1 to 2 packets, depending on size)

125 milliliters | 1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup | 200 grams of peeled tomatoes, chopped or passata di pomodoro (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 stick of unsalted butter; plus more for serving (optional)

1 1/2 cups | 300 grams of Carnaroli rice or Vialone Nano rice

4 1/4 cups | 1 liter fish stock, hot and not very strong

1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, fresh, chopped

7 1/2 grams | 4 teaspoons grated parmesan (optional)


1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and gently sauté half the chopped onion (¼ cup or 13 grams) until tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes . Add the garlic and the cuttlefish with the ink. Stir the cuttlefish for about 1 minute. Then add the wine and possibly the tomatoes. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, stirring occasionally and checking for tenderness, until the cuttlefish is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes total. If necessary, add a little more water to the pan to keep the mixture “saucy”. The cooking time for cuttlefish depends on the size and thickness of the strips. If the meat is very tender, it can be cooked directly in the rice.

2. In a separate 2- or 3-quart saucepan with straight sides, sauté the remaining ¼ cup (13 grams) onion with the butter. Add the rice and toast the grains, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the rice is hot and coated in butter and onion but has not changed color, about 30 seconds.

3. Add 1 cup hot broth and bring to a boil over low heat. As the liquid reduces, continue adding broth by cup, stirring continuously. If the cuttlefish is cooked separately, add it to the rice halfway through cooking, after about 7 minutes. Continue cooking, adding a small amount of broth as needed, until the rice is al dente and the risotto itself is still moist but not runny, 7 to 8 minutes longer. The total time should be 14-15 minutes once the rice is added. If the broth is very strong in flavor, dilute with a little water. Do not overcook the rice or it will become mushy.

4. Remove from the heat, add the butter, parsley, parmesan and stir the rice vigorously (see video) to create smoothness and a wavy (but not “splatter”) texture. This style of risotto is called “all’onda”.

5. The dish should be served on a flat plate, not in a bowl, and eaten with a fork. Just before serving, add more black pepper and, if desired, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe is courtesy of Chef Giovanni “Gianni” Scappin, head chef and co-owner of Kitchen in Woodstock and Market St. in Rhinebeck in New York’s Hudson Valley.

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