For reasons completely obscure to me people think risotto is difficult, time consuming and tricky to make. This is simply not true! There are some traditional methods of making risotto which are completely beyond me – rules where the meat / veggies and the rice are prepared separately and where the rice needs to be stirred continually while the rice is cooking. This is all rubbish.
Simply get a good tasty stock going, add the veggies which can be cooked for 10 minutes on simmer (if not add them later in the cooking process). Add the rice and allow it to cook for about 8 minutes until 90% cooked. Gently stir it from time to time, simply to prevent sticking. Now the rice will have sucked up all the great veggie and stock flavours. Not over stirring means that the rice is left with great body and the risotto isn’t like porridge. Add the cheese and cream if using and you’re done. 20 minutes tops, not fuss.
Try my mushroom risotto below, it’s fool proof and totally delicious. Adding bacon at the same stage as when you’re frying the mushroom adds great flavour! For greens add asparagus tips or peas half way through cooking. It is a winner recipe.
Serves four main course portions
30 g of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in a cup of boiling water (optional, but if not using add an extra cup of stock or water)
3 Tbsp olive oil
500g button mushrooms
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp of cumin
½ tsp of coriander
½ tsp of mixed spice
1 Tbsp of soya sauce
½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp of salt
500ml of vegetable stock
250ml of water
1 ½ cup of Arborio rice
1 tsp of fresh chopped herbs, like thyme, sage, oregano, basil etc.
125ml of cream
1 cup of grated parmesan
Get your dried porcini soaking in boiling water. Heat the oil in a medium size heavy bottomed pot and add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Fry them on medium heat until the mushrooms have reduced to half their size. Add the spices and soya sauce and fry until the mushrooms start to colour in the pan a little.
Add the water, stock, porcini and the water it was soaking in and stir until the flavours from the mushrooms have combined nicely with the stock. Add the rice and allow it to cook on a light simmer for about 7 – 10 minutes (taste the rice, it should be very slightly under done). Only stirring every now and again so as to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
The dish is ready to remove from the heat when the rice is about 90% cooked. It must still have a little bite in it, as it will carry on cooking with the retained heat of the pot and rice. Add the herbs, cheese and cream, stir lightly to combine and allow this to stand with the lid on for a further 10 minutes before serving.