Risotto is a delicious, easy and versatile Italian dish that makes a lovely change from having pasta all the time. This variation with earthy porcini mushrooms and fresh thyme is so comforting – perfect for autumn nights. It’s not the quickest meal, taking around 45 minutes from start to finish, but a great one for the weekend when you’ve got a bit more time.
My tips for making a great risotto:
– keep an eye on the heat, the rice should be continuously simmering after the first stock addition
– use a white wine that you would happily drink. There is no such thing as cooking wine! If you don’t like the flavour of a wine as a drink, there’s no way it will taste good once you’ve cooked off the alcohol and intensified the flavours even more. Plus with this recipe you can have a glass while your waiting for the risotto to cook!
– try not to hang around, eat it quickly before it dries up!
– season your risotto after you have added all the stock and the parmesan. Stock cubes and parmesan are high in salt, so its best to adjust the seasoning once it has all been added to prevent over seasoning
Ingredients (for 2):
- 200 g risotto rice (I use Arborio)
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube (you can save the other half for another dish)
- 175 ml white wine
- 1 medium onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 15 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 250g chestnut mushrooms (sliced)
- 50 g parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- knob of butter
- sea salt & black pepper
- 1/2 a lemon
- Add the dried mushrooms to small bowl, fill half way with boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes while you start the risotto.
- Fill the kettle again and set to boil so it’s ready to make the stock later.
- Finely chop the onion and garlic then add to a saucepan over a low heat with a knob of butter. Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter for 5-6 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Add the sliced chestnut mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the risotto rice and the white wine and then turn up the heat to boil off the alcohol. Its done when there’s only a small amount of liquid left in the pan and the steam doesn’t smell strongly of alcohol.
- While the wine is cooking off, drain the porcini mushrooms through a sieve over another bowl to reserve the soaking liquid. Pour the soaking liquid into a large measuring jug, discarding the last tablespoon which will contain some grit. Top up to 600ml with boiling water and mix in half the stock cube.
- Reduce the heat to a low setting, add a small ladleful of the hot stock and the soaked mushrooms, stir through and leave to simmer.
- Once the rice has nearly absorbed all the liquid, add a little more, stir through, and leave to simmer again. Continue this process of adding the stock little by little to cook the rice (approx. every 3 minutes). Cook for approx 25-30 minutes until it’s soft with a small amount of bite in the middle.
- Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan, the juice of 1/2 a lemon juice, and the leaves from 8 thyme sprigs. Taste the risotto, then season with more sea salt if necessary and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve with more shaved parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or truffle oil if you have any!