On last weekend’s Saturday Kitchen on the BBC, Heston Blumenthal made his “perfect risotto”. This involved different varieties of rice (aged, of course), with a home-made stock, acidulated butter blah blah blah. All well and good, but I usually want a dinner to be cooked in an hour, and I am an unashamed user of stock cubes and just of the one variety of rice, and I happen to think my risotto is pretty darn good.
In response to his quest for perfection, I made my mushroom risotto. For me, getting great results is just a matter of time, as the ingredients are pretty ordinary. Allow the onions to cook gently in butter and olive oil until translucent, fry the rice, then add the stock a little at a time.
I know there is a bit of disagreement as to whether the little-by-little approach to adding the stock really matters (Heston says no), but I find it is a useful way of controlling the liquid in the risotto. I like it to be creamy, with cooked but firm grains of rice, but not wet or soupy. If I am making just a mushroom risotto, then I like to use fungi that have a little more flavour, and usually go for brown chestnut mushrooms. This makes the resulting risotto a rich, warm purple-grey with flecks of brown. I know “grey” is not something that usually seems appealing in a food, but trust me, it works here. If you fancy something a little more decedent, then add one spoon of truffle-infused olive oil. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and you can see how a dish as simple as risotto is truly wonderful.
But did any of Heston’s magic rub off on me? While I find his programmes entertaining, I don’t see myself making many of his dishes. I might pick up a tip here or there, but no more than that. Which is exactly what happened. Rather than serve risotto in a heap, aim for an elegant appearance by placing said heap on a plate, then tapping the bottom with your hand. The risotto will settle down to an even layer. Imagine if you made saffron risotto like this? Serving up a giant disc of gold. Now that would be presentation to be proud of.
To serve 4:
• 250g arborio rice
• 25g butter
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 glass dry white wine
• 1 litre vegetable stock
• 50g Parmesan cheese
• 300g mushrooms, finely sliced (I used chestnut mushrooms for better flavour)
• 2 tablespoons cream
• 1 tablespoon truffle-infused olive oil (optional)
Warm the butter and olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and fry gently over a low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the rice and fry for 2 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the wine, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Start to add the stock, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add more when the previous addition has almost evaporated.
With the last of the stock, add the mushrooms. Allow this to cook, again until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the Parmesan cheese, stir well, and remove form the heat. Stir in the cream and truffle oil, and allow to sit for two minutes with the pot covered.
Serve with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan.
Worth making? Love mushrooms? You will love this. Warming, comforting, elegant and sophisticated. It also adapts easily for a starter or a main. So simple and easy, this is one of my favourite suppers!