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My perfect dried mushroom risotto: you need 300ml of liquid per 100g of rice and that’s the whole secret. Oh, and you’d better stir it for forty minutes too.
I totally appreciate the fact that it takes an Italian, not a recipe, to make the perfect risotto. They will scoff at measuring jugs, get the right amount of rice by a handful and slosh wine in generously, ‘a little more’ being the closest to precision they will ever get.
But I am a creature who needs precision, scales, grams and millilitres. Imperial metrics baffle me; I painstakingly convert cups to ounces to grams. I worry that my reverse conversion that I offer with my recipes won’t work, because what if you’re five grams short? What if my eggs are larger than your eggs or have more yolk? I like structure; I adore rule books.
So it’s taken me some time to work out my perfect proportions of rice to liquid for a risotto but that is it, below. It is neither mushy nor tough; the sloppy, gloopy texture is just what a risotto should be like and it tastes fantastic. I will vote dried wild mushrooms the best risotto material because you get a double whammy of the mushroom pieces rehydrated in water and the soaking liquor which lends flavour to the rice.
Chicken risotto is probably the most popular kind (outside Italy I dare say) but, the carnivore that I am, I much prefer my risotto meatless. It’s a bit of too much, the rice, the Parmesan, the butter – and you really must not skimp on the last two – makes it a rich enough dish that any meat added would be surplus. Seafood, I’ll concede, is light enough but chicken is a no-no.
And I love risotto on its own. It’s dinner enough, add green salad if you must. That is not the only reason I make huge amounts of it but also the best part of a risotto experience comes in the following days: making arancini.
mushroom risottoServings: 4Time: 50 minutes
- 20-25g dried porcini mushrooms plus a few dried morels if available
- 250ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely diced
- salt and black pepper
- 200g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 125ml (a small glass) of dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 40g cold unsalted butter
- 45g grated Parmesan
1. Soak the mushrooms in boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid; place it in a small pan over low heat to bring to a simmer.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan or casserole dish. Add the celery and onions, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft but not browned. In the meantime chop the drained mushrooms and add to the onion mix. Cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the rice to the mix and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute then add the wine. Adjust the heat so it simmers moderately but doesn’t catch to the bottom.
4. When the liquid has been absorbed, add some of the mushroom liquid. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until absorbed. Repeat until all the liquid is gone.
5. Pour the stock to the same small pan and bring to a boil. Continue adding, stirring and absorbing until you’ve used most of the stock; then it’s time to try the rice – grains should be al dente but not raw or starchy in the middle. You might not use up the stock but for me the above is usually the quantity that works the best.
6. Take the rice off the heat and beat in the butter and Parmesan with a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula. Let the risotto rest, covered, for 3-5 minutes, then serve.