My simple mushroom risotto is unquestionably one of the most comforting dishes to prepare and enjoy. The ultimate in slow food, a good risotto comprises of a few simple steps with arborio rice and time as the predominant ingredients. Risotto is a warming one-bowl meal adaptable to many flavours. Here, a selection of mushrooms are used to create an earthy base for silky stock and plump risotto rice.
Porcini, portobello, shiitake, oyster and shimeji mushrooms work best but if fresh mushrooms are proving to be difficult to come by in one’s local grocery store, there is always the option of foraging. Just be sure to consult a reputable guide before picking one’s own mushrooms.
Simple Mushroom Risotto
Prep time: 20mins / Cook time: 40mins / Serves: 6 to 8
You will need:
- 300g fresh mushrooms
- 1 large onion or two shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- a tablespoon of salted butter
- coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
- 250ml of dry white wine
- a litre of homemade chicken stock
- 1 chicken or mushroom stock cube
- 1 cup (250ml) of arborio rice, rinsed to get rid of any excess starch
- 1 to 2 litres of water
- a 100g wedge of Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- extra virgin olive oil
- crème fraîche, to serve
In a frying pan over medium heat, gently cook up the onion or shallots in the butter until they are soft and translucent. Reduce the heat and strip the thyme leaves from the stalks, adding to the onion and following with the crushed garlic clove. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Finally, increase the heat and add in the white wine, deglazing the pan. Reduce the mixture and remove it from the heat, placing into a heatproof bowl and setting aside. Roughly chop up about 3/4 of the mushrooms, reserving any that are aesthetically pleasing to garnish the finished dish with. In the same pan, gently brown the chopped mushrooms in a little butter. When just cooked, remove the mushrooms from the heat and mix in with the onions. Keep warm in an oven on low (110°C ) for now.
Place the rinsed rice into a large heavy-bottomed pot and cover with the chicken stock. Set over medium heat and slowly stir the rice until all of the stock has been absorbed. If the rice is still hard, add in a litre of water, and stir until it has been absorbed. To check that your rice is cooked, simply press a grain between your thumb and forefinger – if it has slight give before squashing, then it is ready. Season the rice with a little salt before transferring the mushroom-onion mixture into the pot and adding the grated Parmesan cheese. Be sure to keep a little extra to serve with the risotto. Gently combine the mushrooms into the rice and brown the remaining mushrooms (keeping them whole and intact) in a little butter.
To serve, divide the risotto into four to eight warmed bowls and top them with the whole fried mushrooms. Finish off the dish with a sprinkling of the grated Parmesan, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a dollop of crème fraîche and a grinding of black pepper. The risotto is ready to eat immediately.