A good winter night’s supper, risotto brings out the Italianness in me and provides pure comfort, both in eating it and preparing it. To those who say making risotto is an awfully stressful and long process, I say that stirring risotto has something therapeutic about it, as Nigella cleverly points out.
This is a basic recipe which you can personalize the way you want by adding, removing or changing some of the ingredients. I will provide some alternatives at the bottom, but you’re more than welcome to experiment.
- 300g risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
- 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 100g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 600ml vegetable stock
- 1 glass of white wine
- olive oil
- fresh thyme
- 150g Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, finely greated
- Before you do anything, soak the dried porcini mushrooms in about 200ml hot water. Leave to stand for about 20-25 minutes until fully re-hydrated and the water has turned a dark brown colour. Once that has happened, gently remove the porcini by squeezing the extra liquid out of them and set aside.
- Mix the hot porcini liquid with hot stock.
- Heat the oil in a pan and gently soften the onion.
- Add the rice together with a knob of butter. Stir the rice in the oily and buttery mixture until fully coated and translucent, then pour in the glass of wine. It will sizzle and bubble a bit.
- Add the chestnut and porcini mushrooms and stir them in.
- Let the wine evaporate and keep on stirring the rice to prevent it from catching at the bottom of the pan.
- Start adding the stock mixture one ladle at a time, stirring constantly to allow the rice to absorb the liquid and by having each ladle of stock fully absorbed before adding another one. Keep on doing so until the rice is soft.
- Every once in a while, add a knob of butter to “cream” the risotto. The butter will help making it silky smooth and tender.
- Once the rice is almost done, add the Parmesan cheese and stir that in. This will also make the risotto creamier. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter with the thyme and serve while still hot.
- If you don’t like red onions, you can substitute them with normal onions or spring onions. Shallots will also work.
- You can enrich the recipe by adding more mushrooms or using different varieties, such as Shiitake or Chanterelle.
- As the risotto will go dark in colour, you can substitute the white wine with red.
- Try scattering the risotto with freshly chopped parsley for an extra hint of green and more flavour.