Saturday, August 4, 2012


There is something therapeutic about making risotto, taking very simple ingredients, rice and stock, and turning them into a velvety pile of soul warming goodness. The more attention you give, the better the results, taking time to finely dice and slowly soften the onion or even better shallots, then toasting the rice, slowly stirring in stock one ladleful at a time, patiently waiting for each dose to be absorbed, helping release the starch from the grains making a smooth sauce.

Risotto is best simple with uncomplicated flavours, but it can be embellished to your hearts desire. I have two favourites I like to make at home, extra cheesy with a good squeeze of lemon, or like the one I’ve made recently, mushroom. I don’t always finely mince the mushrooms, as I have in this recipe, if I had something other than field mushroom I would make a simple lemon risotto and top it with mushrooms sautéed in butter. However, it was the ever so common field mushroom I had my hands on, so they got minced.

I don’t have any real quantities to give you for the recipe, but the ratio is simply 1 part rice to 3-4 parts of stock, plus whatever else you’re flavouring the dish with, in this case a handful of mushrooms. So, get a pot on the heat and pour in some stock, my stock comes from the freezer and I like to ‘refresh’ it by simmering with the stems and peelings of the mushrooms, maybe a handful of herbs and let it steep for a while.

While the stock warms up, finely dice an onion or a couple of shallots. Peel the mushrooms and remove the stems (putting them in the stock), place the mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until very finely minced, tip into a bowl and stir in a spoonful or two of crème fraîche.

Add a knob of butter to a sauté pan over a medium heat, add the diced onion and sweat until translucent, make sure not to brown the onions. Next stir in the rice, gently toast the grains, they will become translucent, but still have a solid white core. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, when evaporated add a ladle of stock and stir, when the stock has been absorbed repeat with another ladle of stock. The rice will take 15-20 minutes to cook, it should still have a bite and not be mushy. Stir through the mushroom mixture and heat through.

Serve in warm bowls, I topped mine with some thin slices of cacciatore sausage, but served plain is good too, or topped with some chopped herbs, or a few sautéed mushrooms.