Toni’s Mushroom Risotto

My friend Andy is a mycophile (someone who loves fungi) he takes his dog Molly out for a walk every day and from September to the first frost foraging for mushrooms.

And he is successful. So successful that he has to dry some of them so he can cook with them through out the year. The other day Andy gave me a jar of his precious dried mushrooms and I made a wonderful risotto.

The south of Italy has its Pasta the North its Risotto. This wonderful comforting dish uses a uniquely Italian technique for cooking rice. The idea is to cook the rice so it absorbs a small amount of hot stock at a time which causes the rice to swell and form a cream like consistency until it becomes tender yet firm to the bite and has absorbed the all stock and mushroom flavours.

For 6 people you will need:

  •     25g (1oz) of dried porcini, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
  •     1.5  litre (2 1/2 pints) chicken stock (home made would be best)
  •     2 finely chopped shallots
  •     60g (2oz) butter
  •     3 tablespoons of olive oil
  •     400g of Arborio rice
  •     50g to 100g of freshly grated parmesan
  •     A hand full of fresh Parsley
  •     Salt and pepper to taste
  •     A punet of fresh mixed mushrooms or wild mushrooms if you can      get them.

How to make:

Soak the mushrooms in 500ml of warm water for 35 minuets, when the water is dark brown strain it through kitchen paper and put aside. Wash the soaked mushrooms again to make sure there is no grit attached. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer.

In a heavy bottomed large sauce pan or casserole add the chopped shallots to the pan and cook until translucent not coloured. Add the rice and stir until all the rice has been coated with the oil. 

Once coated add a ladleful of stock and the saved mushroom juice to the rice, stir until the rice absorbs the liquid and has reached a porridge like consistency, add another ladle of hot stock and continue to stir.

Make sure you don’t let any rice stick to the bottom of the pan, keep adding the stock and when its been absorbed by the rice add some more, remember do not stop stirring.

It will take about 30 minutes to cook the risotto but after about 20 minuets cut the amount of stock you add to half a ladle each time and taste the rice. When it is cooked it will have a creamy consistency, bound together, fluid but not runny.

When the rice is done turn of the heat mix in the cheese, parsley and butter check the seasoning and serve with a bowl of freshly grated parmesan.

You can if you so wish sauté in butter a punet of mixed fresh mushrooms to sprinkle over the top of the finished dish. This will only add to the wonderfulness of this classic Italian plate of food.

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"Carnaroli'' is the king of risotto rice by Riso Gallo, an exceptional quality rice with large, full-bodied grains that encompasses six generations of passion and culture for rice.

From all good supermarkets.