Porcini Mushroom Risotto: a recipe to keep

Risotto risotto Soft plump pearls of rice, a plate silky, velvety voluptuous mass, the intensely flavored starch flattered every grains on the plate and the parmesan cheese enriches with a taste of fullness. You will end up almost licking the plate. 

Though I rarely order risotto when I eat out, I know a lot of friends who gets excited when they spot risotto on the menu. Jumping at the order only be disappointed with fakes, usually a shortcut cooked with cream, plastic mozzarella, it just doesn't ooze the right way, and the worst I had ever tried, cooked with short grain rice. The most important ingredient to a good risotto is time which many restaurant lacks unless it from a decent restaurant that can time your order and also can have the expenses of a cook to stir your order of risotto constantly over medium heat for at least 20 mins. Risotto are fairly cheap and actually very easy to make. Now you see why you can be charged up to $25 for a plate of rice.

I used to have 2 risottos in the restaurant. The porcini mushroom risotto is always a popular one and this is the recipe we serve up. Well, in the restaurant we do pre-cook the risotto to cut time. A base risotto, this is how I call it, cooked up to the stage where you first fry up the grains with the addition of wine, the based will be left to cool and portioned up, we usually do about 20 portioned base at one go. Fresh mushrooms are added later. On the line, they’re always firing up everything. It's sometime so good to stand over the pan stirring calmly against the super-heated fryers and roaring burners for the next 15 mins when an order of risotto comes in.

Serves 2 as mains
A small handful of dried porcini mushrooms
6 medium size portobello mushrooms
800 mL hot chicken stock
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic clove, minced
½ glass of white wine
200g risotto rice

60g butter
1 thyme sprig
Handful of chopped parsley or basil
2 handful freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
Juice of ½ lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Soak the dried porcini in a bowl with boiling water for 30 mins or until water is cooled to room temperature. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. Finely chop the porcini and reserve in a small bowl.

In a large pan, heat half the butter and add the onion and sugar and slowly sauté for 10 mins without coloring them, add the garlic, thyme sprig and porcini mushrooms, fry for additional 2 mins, then turn the heat up and add the portabellos, allow it to cook for a few minutes then add the rice. Give it a stir. Stir in the wine. Keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Now pour in the porcini soaking liquid, a good pinch of salt and your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring the starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.

Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to relax for about 3 minutes.

Plate your risotto and add a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan, herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil a few grinds of pepper and squeeze the lemon.

- Till next post, ss.

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