Hailed as the quick and easy midweek supper, risotto actually took me quite a while to perfect. But once you’ve got your technique down, it’ll definitely become a favourite.
Making risotto is all about stirring stirring stirring – unlike instant polenta, there is no cheat mode to delightful risotto! I used to find making it really stressful, as I’m usually busy doing three different things at once when I’m cooking – chop while you cook, that kind of thing. I would’ve been really grateful if someone told me at the start that risotto requires your full and undivided attention, so here it goes: Risotto requires your full and undivided attention. That means measuring and chopping and grating all the ingredients before you start, and having them at arm’s reach. As if you were doing a cooking show! This way, you can pay close attention to what is happening inside your pan, which is very important. By stirring the rice frequently, you do not only prevent it from burning to the bottom of your pan, you also release its starchy goodness, which leads to a heavenly creamy risotto. Do make sure you use either Parmiggiano Reggiano or Grana Padano as these cheeses blend into the sauce wonderfully. Mushroom-wise there is not much you could do wrong. Go for wild mushrooms as they have a bigger and more diverse flavour range than the more traditional mushrooms you find in your supermarket. Remember, mushroom season is almost over, so make the most of it while you can! Think girolle, oyster, brown beech, pied bleu – the list goes on and on. If you’re struggling to find any, have a look at dried mushrooms – they keep forever and all you need to do is soak them before cooking! My favourites are girolle, oyster and porcini mushrooms, but there are endless possibilities. If there’s a big Morrison’s supermarket near you, get your mushrooms there. They have the biggest variety of mushrooms I’ve encountered in a supermarket so far, and their labels tell you about the variety’s taste and texture. Last but not least don’t attempt cooking a risotto with long grain rice – it won’t work. Have a look at the links below to find out why. Carnaroli is my rice of choice, but Arborio is generally easier to find – I got my rice from asda though, so there’s no need to go to an overpriced deli for it! Just shop around and I’m sure you’ll be able to find what you need.
180g Carnaroli rice (Arborio is fine as well)
Half a chopped onion
1 garlic clove
Knob of butter, plus approx 40g to finish
Approx 200g-250g wild mushrooms
1l good quality chicken stock (good stock cubes will do; or veggie ones for a vegetarian version)
1 small glass (125ml) white wine
Handful of grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
Seasoning to taste (remember the stock is already quite salty)
Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!
And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.
What’s the difference between basmati and Arborio rice? And what about Carnaroli? Does it really make a difference? Find out here why risotto rice is different and get acquainted with 5 different types (yes five!).
I’ve never made any kind of stock myself and I don’t really mind admitting that, but I feel like I should at least give you the option to do it yourself. And who knows, maybe with this second version that uses no chicken bones at all and is only supposed to take an hour I might even try it myself!
OH NO! I’ve made too much risotto! Yeah right, we all know that you just wanted to have enough leftovers to do these super tasty rice fritters.
Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.