Risotto con Porcini
I find that we (the Irish) are not great for eating mushrooms. I’m not entirely sure why but I think our natural scepticism may have something to do with it. It’s for the same reason that your Mother would cook the chicken for four hours on a Sunday or that your Dad will only ever order a steak “well done” – we appear to have a deep rooted fear of some items we put into our mouths, except alcohol of course! I’m the first to admit that at least where mushrooms are concerned, I tend to err on the side of caution – I don’t trust myself to pick the right ones. Luckily, dried porcini mushrooms are available in most supermarkets, allowing us to enjoy their meaty flavour without a hint of fear.
Risotto can be daunting to make for the first time but, as with everything, the more you practice it, the more your confidence will develop. It shouldn’t be daunting anyway, it’s a simple dish to make, you just need a little bit of time and patience. There are two things to ensure before you begin – you must have good stock. The stock provides the rice with the majority of its flavour, so it’s best to use homemade or a good quality shop bought version; you will taste the difference. The other thing you must do is to sweat the onions until they are soft – there is nothing worse than eating a creamy, well seasoned risotto and chomping down on raw onion!
75 g Butter
2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion (finely chopped)
30 g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
300 g Arborio or Carnaroli Risotto Rice
A Glass of White Wine (drinkable quality)
1 L of Chicken or Vegetable Stock
50 g Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Before you begin, you need to reconstitute the dried porcini. Put them into a cup or measuring jug and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes before draining and chopping. Keep the soaking water and sieve into the stock to add extra flavour.
Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and keep it at this heat while you make the risotto.
Add 25 g of the butter and all of the oil to a pan over a medium heat. Once the butter melts and begins to foam, add the onion and season liberally with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and sweat until the onion is soft – taste to check. Add the chopped porcini to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the rice to the pan and stir well to ensure every grain is coated with the butter and oil. Add the wine and allow to cook off until it’s fully absorbed.
Add two ladles of the hot stock to the pan and stir well. Allow the stock to be almost fully absorbed by the rice before you add another ladle and stir. Continue to do this until the rice is cooked but still has a very slight bite (al dente). You will need to keep stirring the rice to ensure it doesn’t dry out and burn.
When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining butter and grated parmesan. Stir vigorously to cream the risotto. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.