I have a risotto jinx, which I try to overcome periodically. I’m not going to list the things that have gone wrong with mine, in order not to jinx any readers in return (that’s some very Italian thinking for you), but suffice it to say that I have somehow made risotti that were both too crunchy and too mushy… yeuch. I know that the method I’m following is right (thanks mum), but somehow that doesn’t usually translate into the actual execution. However, yesterday’s attempt wasn’t too bad when measured on the Husband Eagerness For Seconds scale… so I think it’s fit to share.
Obviously the more wild and interesting your mushrooms are the better. Yesterday I could only get boring old champignons, but I soaked some dried porcini in boiled water and added these to the sauté, which helped to deepen the flavour. I also added some of the soaking liquid to the stock.
This recipe is more than enough for two, but with the leftovers you can follow Nigel Slater‘s advice and make shallow-fried risotto patties – I’m going to try that one over the weekend.
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms
200g arborio rice
A matchbox size of cold butter
Half an onion, a garlic clove and a stick of celery, finely chopped
small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
A matchbox size of cold butter, chopped into little squares
a nice bunch of fresh flat-leaved parsley, finely chopped
2 big tablespoons grated parmesan
Chop and grate everything you need to begin with, as once the risotto gets going you need to stir pretty continuously.
Wipe clean and roughly chop the mushrooms. Heat some butter in a pan and sauté the mushrooms and thyme, adding a glass of white wine and a little parsley when their initial juices have begun to evaporate. Set aside.
Put the stock on the hob to heat up, and find a ladle. When its hot, get on with the risotto.
Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil and a small chunk of butter in a pan, I find a wide sauté pan is good for this. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook gently without colouring the vegetables until nice and soft (check this!).
Turn the heat up and add the rice, stirring as it fries. After a couple of minutes it will begin to look a bit translucent around the edges. At this point, add a glass of white wine and let it evaporate.
Turn the heat down to a medium-low simmer, and begin to add the stock one ladle at a time, stirring fairly consistently. Add the next ladleful when it’s all been absorbed, and carry on like this until the rice is cooked (it may take a bit more stock).
Stir in the cold chopped butter, parsley and parmesan in, and then the chopped mushrooms. Make sure everything is well combined, season and serve.