Creamy Mushroom Risotto

A very blustery run today, although the sun was out which never fails to cheer me up. I’m finding my usual route getting a bit slippery and slidey, and there are still some fallen trees from the St Jude’s storm, so it’s a bit of an obstacle course at times!

Today’s recipe is going to be very seasonal, with a warming creamy mushroom risotto. Yesterday I went out for dinner with A, and he had a mushroom soup that was very good. Suffice to say that today I got a craving for fungi.

Risotto is just right for this time of year – starchy, creamy and yet not wholly unvirtuous. I cooked it in the later hours of the afternoon listening to the radio. It gets very dark these days, so apologies for the poor photo!

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Creamy Mushroom Risotto

Adapted from BBC Food

  • 1 tsbp dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 squeeze garlic puree
  • 225g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 350g arborio rice
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2 tsp vegetable stock powder (I use Marigold bouillon)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • knob of butter
  • freshy grated parmesan to serve

Soak the porcini mushrooms in a litre of boiling hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, but save the soaking water. Add the stock powder to it. This will form your stock for the risotto. Simmer the stock in a pan over a low heat to keep it hot.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Fry over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, until softened.

Stir in the rice and coat in the oil. Pour in the wine a little at a time, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the stock, a ladelful at a time, simmering and stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed. Keep adding stock this way until the rice has plumped up and become tender.

Chop up the soaked porcini mushrooms and stir into the risotto, along with the parsley, butter and salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, and a sprig of fresh parsley to garnish.

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Saffron Risotto

Alternate title for this post: I MADE RISOTTO AND IT WORKED!

But that sounded a bit overexcited.

I love risotto, and it’s one of the dishes I always end up ordering in restaurants. I love the way the grains of rice clump together on your fork, and the smooth melting texture as it enters your mouth and clings to the palate. Yum.

Anyway, it was also one of the dishes I tried multiple times to make, and never succeeded. It was always crunchy and hard, and rather like eating raw rice – not pleasant at all. I couldn’t figure out what I’d been doing wrong at all – until I finally watched somebody else make it from scratch – and realised it had been staring me in the face all along. I simply hadn’t been cooking the rice enough. It’s really important in risotto to use hot stock, but I’d been lazy and not bothered.

Well, to finally have a gloopy (uncrunchy) risotto sitting invitingly on dishes waiting for Friday night supper is a joyous feeling.

Another note, risotto shouldn’t be quite as firm as it appears in the photo, but for some reason I was determined to mould them into mounds, and in retrospective shouldn’t have, because it is lovelier in its less solid form.

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Saffron Risotto

Serves 3

  • A generous glug of olive oil
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 300g frozen/fresh prawns
  • small handful frozen peas
  • 300g risotto rice
  • salt and pepper
  • a glass of white wine
  • vegetable stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron strands
  • small bunch of finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp butter

First add the olive oil to a pan, and heat up to a medium-high temperature. Sautee the shallots/onions until soft, then add the prawns and the frozen peas. Sautee a couple more minutes until cooked.

Then add the rice in one go, and sautee on a high heat, mixing well so it’s thoroughly coated in oil. You want to cook it properly at this point, or it stays horribly crunchy later on, and never gets creamy. Once you have cooked the hell out of the rice (but don’t overdo it), add the glass of wine, and enjoy the sizzle as it hits the pan. Add the saffron at this point and a sprinkling of salt.

Meanwhile you should have the stock bubbling away in a separate pan. It must be hot, but you can keep it at a gentle simmer. Add a ladleful to the risotto, and stir ferociously until the liquid is all gone, then keep repeating until the risotto rice is creamy, with just a little bit of bite left. At this point add the salt/pepper/fresh herbs. Then stir in the butter/grated parmesan and serve.