I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more soothing and satisfying in the whole world than making risotto. From the comforting smell of the rich stock to the gentle blips and bubbles that rise from the surface of the pan, each pop filled with its own promise of deliciousness – nothing gives me more joy. I relish the fact that Arborio rice can take any ingredient thrown at it, as long as it is given the time to envelope each ingredient into its gooey embrace.
The trick with any risotto is to let it do its thing s-l-o-w-l-y. The onions and garlic mustn’t burn and neither should the butter come to think of it. The rice should be pushed into the melted butter with care; what you are doing is massaging out the starch so if you do it too quickly you won’t get that delicious creamy consistency, plus nobody likes burnt rice. The white wine may sound like an extravagance but I would be hugely surprised if you didn’t have some floating around or weren’t planning to buy any at some point; come on, who are we trying to kid here? Finally, stock. Now purists will want you to use a delicious homemade stock, which of course I encourage but am also aware that it’s a pretty big ask (I’m not going to pretend I remember to make a stock every time I’m finished with a roast chicken) so use the best stock powder/cube you can afford. All I ask is that you check that it’s well seasoned, or you may as well use plain old boiling water.
This recipe is for a very simple Mushroom risotto. It follows no recipe other than the one that I am making up in my head as I go along, inspired by many of the risottos I have read about or seen made before. It serves 4 but if it’s just for 1 or 2 don’t try and reduce quantities. Risotto, in my opinion, is delicious cold. Or you could try out Arancinis. Form leftover risotto into balls, roll in a beaten egg, then breadcrumbs, then fry till hot and melty. Taste. Explosion.
The mushrooms are dried porcinis (which can be bought from most supermarkets relatively cheaply and last well), with chestnut mushrooms quickly fried in olive oil and garlic stirred in at the end for good measure followed by my favourite, Parmesan. I honestly believe that you can never have too much Parmesan. It is the cheese of the Gods.
P.s Following the advice of the very wise Julie and Julia, I did not crowd the mushrooms.
P.p.s This is THE song to make risotto to. Trust me.
- 50g dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 250ml hot water
- 750ml of vegetable stock using cube or powder
- good slug of olive oil
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove , finely chopped
- 250g pack chestnut mushrooms , sliced and washed
- 300g risotto rice , such as arborio
- 1 glass white wine (175ml)
- 25g butter
- 50g grated parmesan or grana padano (cheaper option and just as delish)