Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three Mushroom Risotto

This weekend seems to have been all about comfort food and tonight I decided on the ultimate Italian comfort food, risotto. I had some dried Italian Porcini mushrooms in the pantry and decided to put them to use after being inspired at the greengrocer today. I found some lovely flat field mushrooms and some swiss browns when I was shopping this morning and decided mushrooms would be the flavour of the day. I love combining mushroom varieties - the flavour that you can achieve is wonderful and you also have the advantage of having different textures and colours.

Mushrooms are great right now and you seem to be able to get different varieties more easily than you used to. Once, you only really got cap or button mushrooms in the stores, (which to my palate, have very little taste) now there are all sorts of varieties available, even at your average supermarket. As well as field mushrooms, shitake, swiss brown, oyster, wood ear and enokii, I have also seen the yellow/orange local pine mushrooms this season. When you are using mushrooms, don't be shy about using the dried ones - just soak them in water till they soften and slice them and they are ready for cooking. I love the Asian black fungus and dried shitake. Just bear in mind that the flavour is really strong, so use them in dishes where you want a strong flavour.

So, to tonight's dinner - Three Mushroom Risotto. It is easy to make, but a word of advice about overstirring your risotto. The aim is to not break up the grains too much. If you do, you will break down the starch in the rice and you will end up with a pasty, gluggy, unappetising mess. Not cool. Try not to stir too much (but make sure it doesn't stick on the bottom)
Treat your risotto like you are making sweet, sweet love to it - not like you are rodgering it senseless from behind!
Three Mushroom Risotto
Serves 4-6
You will need:
Olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
About 1.5 litres chicken stock
1 large chopped brown onion
2 cloves garlic
3-4 cups sliced mushrooms
(tonight I used a mixture of Porcini, Swiss Brown and field mushrooms)
Butter (amount to taste)
Grated parmesan (amount to taste)
Salt and pepper
Fresh chives or continental parsley (optional)

Heat a splash of olive oil in the pan and gently cook the onion and garlic until it begins to turn translucent. Add the rice and combine well. You want to coat and slightly toast the rice, but you do not want it to brown. Adjust the heat if you have to. Cook for about 5 mins.

Bring the stock to the boil and add the stock to the rice a few spoonfulls at a time, allowing all the moisture to evaporate before adding the next batch. When the rice is almost cooked (it should have "bite" and a slight fimness to the centre) add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.

To finish, stir through some butter and freshly grated parmesan. Season to taste. Garnish with fresh chives or continental parsley.

Serve immediately.


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