I’m a big fan of risotti, cooking and eating, but hardly ever have them in restaurants. Why? Simply because very few restaurants cook risotto properly – it’s usually done in advance, frequently in a factory some days, weeks or months earlier. The rice is not correctly al dente but soggy or even mushy, the texture of the risotto in clumps, not moist and creamy, and the flavour is, for want of a better word, bland. A great risotto should be made fresh and be like no other rice dish – it should transcend mere rice and taste divine!!
Note that this is my recipe only, without pretensions to being a classic recipe. All I know is that it tastes bloody good!! Dried wild mushrooms – and you can use any combination you like for a great combination of taste and texture – add a deliciously earthy aroma and flavour. If you’re on a diet, go easy on the butter and cheese but they really are worthwhile even if it means living on water and lettuce leaves for the next week!!
- Risotto rice (arborio, carneroli etc.)
- Onion or shallot, finely chopped
- Garlic, finely chopped
- Tbs of chopped tomatoes or passata (optional but strongly recommended!)
- Garlic puree
- Chestnut mushrooms, wiped and chopped into even sized pieces
- Dried porcini, soaked in hot water for half an hour (retain the liquid)
- Any other mushrooms you may want to add!!
- White wine
- Chicken or veg stock, preferably home made, fresh and warm
- Salt & freshly milled black pepper
- Butter (real butter, not imitation)
- Freshly grated parmesan, pecorino or grana padano cheese
- Sprinkle of chopped parsley for serving, along with more pepper and cheese 🙂
Heat a generous slug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan until hot but not quite smoking. Sauté onion for a minute, then add chestnut mushrooms. Continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add rice, roughly a small handful per person. Stir well to coat every grain of rice with the oil, and season well – bearing in mind that rice soaks up sodium, so you will need to test and season at regular intervals. Drain the porcini but keep the liquid close to hand, then add them to the pan, along with a bit of chopped tomato (which is not the Italian way but I like it!)
When the rice is well coated, pour in sufficient wine to cover. This will sizzle and reduce. Keep stirring, making sure no rice sticks to the bottom or dries out. When most wine has been absorbed, add a ladleful of warm stock and repeat the reduction. When the rice is still a little hard to bite (c15 mins), add the reserved porcini liquid and reduce fast.
Stir in a good knob of butter and lots of fresh-grated cheese and pepper, then sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately with salads and/or anything else you fancy. Enjoy!