Risotto is a labour of love. Despite all the standing around and stiring, it is just one of my FAVOURITE things ever to cook and to eat. If you do it right it’s this amazing combination of creamy and crunchy, and Arborio rice just soaks up flavours like nobodies business. In my opinion, mushrooms are the way to go – they’re scrummy, traditional, nutritious and as a bonus are bound to placate any lurking vegetarians.
I am deliberately vague below with my quantities – the only hard and fast rule with risotto is that you need to do a rice:liquid radio of 1:3. The rest is up to you! Go wild(mushroom)!
Ingredients (serves two greedy people)
- 300g Arborio or other risotto rice
- 800ml vegetable or chicken stock
- 100ml white wine
- 1 white onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 250g wild/woodland mushrooms or porcini if you’re feeling fancy
- 2 knobs butter
- lots of finely grated parmesan
- Basil or parsley leaves for garnish
- Get your stock heating in a pan on the stove. It needs to be just on the edge of a simmer. Risotto made with lukewarm stock is acceptable, but not as good as risotto made like this.
- To make the parmesan crisps (an excellent thing that can make any dish look way posher than it actually is) use a cookie cutter as a stencil to make as many discs of grated parmesan as you need. The parmesan should be just thick enough that you can’t see through them to the base of the pan. Turn on the heat and watch your parmesan discs melt and bubble until they start to turn golden brown around the edges.
- Take the pan off the heat and wait for the crisps to cool. Meanwhile finely dice your onion, chop your mushrooms into random shapes and peel the two cloves of garlic.
- The crisps should be cool now and easily removable from the non-stick pan with a pallete knife or spatula.
- Put the first knob – make it a large one) of butter in the pan on a medium heat and soften the onion in it.
- Grate in the garlic with a fine, hand-held grater (must have kitchen equipment here, folks) and then add the rice and coat it in the butter so it goes all glossy.
- When the rice has started to soak up the last of the butter and the garlic is smelling amazing, add the wine (I know, almost a whole glass of wine in FOOD. I promise it’s worth it, it really improves the flavour of the risotto).
- Now gradually add the stock, ladle by ladle, and massage the rice with a wooden spoon so that the starch is released to create a deliciously creamy texture. You need to add a new ladle each time the rice has almost absorbed the last lot you added.
- Add the chopped mushrooms when you’re about two thirds of the way through the stock, any sooner and they’ll lose any semblance of texture they may once have had.
- When all the liquid is gone, remove from the heat, stir in another small knob of butter and some more grated parmesan.
- Season to taste – I recommend LOTS of freshly ground black pepper – and serve with a crisp and a basil/parsley garnish.
NB: When it’s done the risotto should still have a bit of bite to the rice but it should have absorbed ALL of the liquid. It’s meant to be VERY thick – you don’t want free fluid running all over your plate. You need to be able to put a blob on a plate or in a bowl and it should hold it’s shape so that you can insert delicious and aesthetically pleasing morsels (e.g. a parmesan crisp) into it without them sinking.
Remember, kids, we eat with our eyes as well as our gobs!