A Wonderfully Kind Gesture
My boyfriend and I do love a good mushroom risotto, but often find that they are not always that mushroomy. They seem to lack in the earthy-mushroomy-fungi department. After sitting on the couch for at least five minutes, my moment of Eureka struck when I came up with a solution to a more mushroomy-tasting-risotto. At the end of risotto (when you add in the mantecatura – the cheese and butter) I add in a mushroom butter. And by golly, does this add a mushroom flavour.
Before beginning your risotto there are a few (more like seven things) you should know. I was taught these ‘rules’ (if you can call them that– perhaps manifesto is more apt) when I worked as a chef in London. After recently been called ‘unkind’, I have decided to share my risotto wisdom with you all to show how wonderfully kind I actually am (please note: I am using sarcasm here, I don’t want to be called arrogant as well, I’m not in the mood to post a recipe in which I show how wonderfully modest I am!)
Risotto Manifesto (a kind and true account)
- Always use a wooden spoon (stainless steel can crack/break the rice grain)
- Only use oil (olive, canola, avocado whatever oil you want) in the beginning of cooking (butter is used as a emulsifier at the end of cooking)
- Lightly toast your rice. This helps the rice absorb liquid and gives it a nice flavour. (After you have sweated your onion and garlic add the rice and gently toast. Be careful not to burn or over-cook your onion and garlic – they will become bitter).
- Keep your stock warm on the stove (simmering) while making your risotto.
Leave your risotto wetter than you intend on serving it. Towards the end of cooking, add your last bit of stock (at this point it can be a little less than a full ladle) and remove from heat. (Your risotto will continue to cook while you add your mantecatura).
- Add your cheese and butter at the end of cooking (mantecatura) on top of your cooked risotto. Place lid on and leave for a few minutes (off the heat).
- Beat (vigorously) the butter and cheese into your risotto. It is now ready to serve.
- Bon appetit
Oh and, if anyone else wants to show how kind they are please leave a comment on how you make a good risotto – any tips are most welcome. I would love to add to the above manifesto.
Also, I would like to know what you guys think of my new logo. I painted it (the chicken, fish and text that is) and created the boarder in photoshop. I am still trying to figure out how I replace my old logo (fork) with my new one – my bloody template is not allowing me to add a new header that is wider than the width of the fork. So for now I will just wait to hear what people think of it. (The recipe will follow after my logo) Oh, and I went with the first logo. The second one is the actual painting I did and then I decided to simplify and de-saturate it slightly in photoshop.
Wild Mushroom Risotto:
200g punnet of mixed mushrooms
5 tbls of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g of arborio rice
4 sprig of thyme, leaves picked
salt and pepper, to taste
250ml of white wine (I use Savangnon Blanc)
leftover liquor from dried mushrooms (see below mushroom butter)
1 liter – 1.5 liters of chicken or vegetable stock (depending on how cooked you like your risotto)
half a cup of Parmesan cheese, grated (plus extra for serving)
micro herbs, to serve
50g dried mushrooms (shitake work best, but porcinni work well too)
60g butter, softened
Begin by re-hydrating the dried mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water, I use a ratio of 1:1.5 of mushrooms to water (so the water should be one and a half times the volume of mushrooms). Once your mushrooms are re-hydrated, or have been soaking for at least 15 minutes, you can begin to drain and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Remember to reserve the liquid as you will be using it later in your risotto. Now add the re-hydrated mushrooms and softened butter to a food processor or blender and blitz till it resembles a smooth paste. Scrape out the mushroom butter and place onto plastic wrap or grease-proof paper, roll into a tube and place into the fridge.
Now begin to start your risotto, but first cook your mushrooms.
Slice your mixed mushrooms. In a pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil and fry your mushrooms. To the mushrooms, add one clove of chopped garlic, a sprig of thyme (leaves picked) and about ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, or to taste. Fry the mushroom till cooked, I like them slightly golden on the edges. Set the mushrooms aside. We will add them to the risotto just before it is done. If you add them too early they will get over-cooked and mushy (and no one likes mushy mushrooms)
Now for the rice (and finely getting the risotto going)
Add three tablespoons of olive oil into a heavy-based pan, and slowly fry your onion, garlic and thyme until they are translucent. At this point season with salt and pepper (half a teaspoon of each should do the job). Remember to only use olive oil at this point, when making risotto, butter should only be added at the end as butter (together with Parmesan) works as a emulsifier in risotto.
Now add your risotto to the onion and stir with a wooden spoon till the risotto is fully coated in the olive oil. Again always use a wooden spoon when cooking risotto, stainless steel can crack and break the rice grain which make your risotto too stodgy.
Once the rice is coated, allow the rice to fry a bit – say for a minute or two, you don’t want to burn the rice you just want it to start to get a bit of colour (very slight brown). I would suggest, that once the rice starts to stick to the bottom of the pan it is ready to add the wine. Add your wine, and allow for the alcohol smell to evaporate and then add the reserved mushroom liquid. Stir, and once the liquid is dissolved begin to add your stock ladle full at a time. I also would suggest that you have your stock simmering in a pot, as you should keep the stock at a constant (almost boiling) temperature. Once the ladle of stock is absorbed by the rice add another ladle of stock. Continue to do this until the rice is cooked to your preference – the more liquid you add the more cooked your risotto will end up. I find that a liter of stock is the perfect amount for me, not too crunchy and not too soft. Also give your rice a couple of stirs after every ladle, as you don’t want the rice to stick at the bottom. Plus, check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed. Now, just before you add your last ladle of stock pour in the cooked mushrooms we set aside earlier. Stir, and add seasoning if needed. After the finale ladle of stock has gone in, quickly remove from the heat. At this point you want your risotto to be a little wetter than you intend on serving it. So I suggest after the final ladle to remove it from the heat as the risotto will continue to absorb the liquid. Now, it’s time to add the mushroom butter and Parmesan cheese.
Slice the butter into rough chunks , together with the Parmesan cheese, place on top of the cooked risotto. Now, quickly put the lid on the risotto, do not stir just leave the butter and cheese resting on top. After three minutes, remove the lid and vigorously stir in the butter and Parmesan. This should help make your risotto creamy, but not stodgy.
Serve topped with micro herbs