Risotto is something I shied away from for a long time; I’m not sure what was wrong with me, was it the horror stories about how easily it can go wrong? Was it the thoughts of eating a plate of rice on its own? Was it the texture? I don’t really know. While out in the – now reduced to ashes – Avoca shop in Bunratty a few months ago, I spotted a box of DeCecco Arborio rice and decided it was about time I grew up and tried cooking risotto. My first offering was a roasted pumpkin & sage version but that didn’t quite cut the mustard so, the other night, I had another go with much better results. I decided on a mushroom risotto as I’d some dried porcinis sitting in the press unused for the past few months, along with some other goodies that required using up.
I stopped using stock cubes a while back as I’m not crazy about the flavour and real stock is so easy to make. For this recipe, I chopped up two carrots, two sticks of celery, an onion, a sprig of thyme and added them to a pint & a half of water and got it boiling. It needs about ½ an hour or more depending on how strong you want it so get it on the hob before you begin chopping the vegetables for the risotto. I got a good tip before on stock; if you’re making a big batch and plan on freezing it, reduce the stock right down to about 1/6 of what it should be and freeze in the ice cube tray, once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag so you always have a ‘stock cube’ at hand. Just add water and voila, fresh stock in an instant. This method saves on valuable real estate in the freezer, especially if, like me, you own a fridge freezer and are often stuck for space.
Back to the risotto; like a needy boyfriend, this dish requires a lot of attention. You need to sweat the onions, garlic & mushrooms in batches, then add the rice and tease it around the pan until it’s begging for liquid. When the pan is completely bone dry and the rice has taken about all the torture it can, add the wine which will be guzzled back in seconds. Now inebriated, the risotto will begin begging again so you’ll need to sober it up with some stock from the pot as well as the liquor used to re-hydrate the mushrooms, ladle by ladle, only adding more when the previous ladle has been absorbed. This gentle foreplay goes on for about half an hour until the rice is cooked through and then a handful of fresh parmesan is added to complete the dish. Thankfully I was on my own for this event – did I mention that risotto is a perfect meal for one? Now go on, treat yourself!
What You Need
About ½ a cup of risotto rice
About a pint of stock (see above)
A glass of white wine
1 clove of garlic
1 onion chopped
About 10 mushrooms sliced (You can use wild, I just got button mushrooms from my local shop)
Some re-hydrated porcini mushrooms with the liquid reserved
2 Tbsp fresh grated parmesan
Sea salt & pepper
What You Do
- Sweat the onion in a medium sized pan until translucent and transfer back into a bowl.
- Cook the fresh mushrooms until the water comes out, and is evaporated again. Return the onions to the pan with the garlic & cook for another minute.
- Add the rice and stir for a few minutes – see description above.
- Add the wine, stir, cook for a few minutes and add the porcini liquor, stir, cook and add a ladle of stock, stir & cook. Repeat until rice is fully cooked.
- Stir in the porcinis, salt, pepper & parmesan.