When I was at chef school, one of my favourite chefs and lecturers used to say that you cannot make risotto while you are angry at someone! If you’re making risotto the traditional way you have to stir, pour stock and stir some more for about 40 minutes. I am very inpatient but I love cooking risotto. There is something calming and soothing about tending to a pan of risotto and of course, if you’ve tasted a good risotto once, you have the sublime end-product to look forward to.
Because the risotto relies on the mushroom for its dominant flavour I would recommend sourcing dried Porcini mushrooms. They are fragrant and earthy and brings an other-worldly fabulousness to this dish. Try Delheim Wine Estate for Porcini mushrooms that have been foraged and dried on their estate and while you’re at it, get a few bottles of their Sauvignon Blanc as well! (See the COOK & BOOK section for more detail on Delheim).
±80g risotto rice per person (I use 100g per person so that I have enough risotto left over to make Arancini the next day)
100g butter and some good olive oil
100g dried Porcini mushrooms or mixed mushrooms
250ml white wine, the Delheim Sauvignon Blanc is utterly delicious!
1 onion, very finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 litres of stock
parmesan or pecorino cheese
Soak the dried mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and adding warm tap water to it. Allow to stand and soak for at least 1 hour.
Put a sieve over a stock pot and drain the mushrooms into the pot so that you have the mushrooms in the sieve and the soaking liquid in the pot. Put the mushrooms to the side and add the 2 litres stock to the mushroom liquid. Turn on the heat to warm the stock. Once warm you may turn the heat to low, so that the stock keeps warm.
Now, pour yourself a glass of the Sauvignon and put a heavy-based, deep pan onto medium to high heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt.
Add more or less the same amount of olive oil to the melted butter and stir in the onion.
Add the garlic and stir the mixture for 1 minute before adding the risotto rice.
Stir the rice around so that every granule gets coated with the butter and oil mixture and the grains start to appear almost translucent.
Add the white wine and allow it to bubble for about 2 minutes.
Now add about two ladles full of stock to the rice and stir around slowly, waiting for the rice to absorb the liquid. Add another two ladles full of stock and stir again. Keep adding and stirring until the rice isn’t absorbing any more stock.
The risotto should now be creamy and not dry and the rice must retain its “bite”/be al dente.
Add the soaked mushrooms that you have kept to the side and allow it some time to integrate and release its flavour into the dish.
Season the risotto with salt and by grating a generous amount of parmesan into it and taste whether it is to your liking.
Serve with extra parmesan, a crusty loaf of bread and a good wine.