If there’s a winter-warming dish, this has to be it. I haven’t made risotto recently, and was reminded of its popularity at home. Using a small portion of dried mushrooms is key to getting a really deep, meaty flavour. This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. We ate it with a salad of greens topped off with roasted butternut pumpkin.
If you want to make risotto for a dinner party, you can complete the steps until the point where you add the wine. About 30 minutes before serving, complete the cooking. I outsource this to my brats; even they can ladle in the stock and stir the risotto to complete the cooking!
A few words about the ingredients:
Rice – any risotto rice will do. Arborio is the most easily available. But this time I tried a slightly less known variety called Vialone Nano, which I think makes a creamier risotto. Whatever you do, don’t rinse the rice before using. You need all the starch.
A mix is good, but definitely use Portobello mushrooms for their rich flavour. Adding a small amount of dried mushrooms is an excellent way of increasing the depth of mushroom flavour. Dried mushrooms can be expensive, but you only need a small amount.
It’s best to buy the pancetta in a slab form so it’s easy to dice. You can use sliced pancetta or unsmoked bacon too – just chop the slices finely.
Wild mushroom risotto
A creamy and delicious risotto full of mushroom flavour. Use vegetable stock if you want to keep it strictly vegetarian. Being a rich dish, a little goes a long way. Eat with some simply cooked greens or a salad.
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour about 1½ cups of boiling water over them. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Scoop the mushrooms from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Rinse the mushrooms to get rid of any grit and chop into smaller pieces. Set aside.
Pour the mushroom soaking liquid through a paper towel, discarding the gritty solids and set aside.
Chop the pancetta or bacon into cubes.
Meanwhile, wipe the fresh mushrooms and slice thickly.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock with the reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and saute the chopped pancetta and onions over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped soaked mushrooms and the fresh mushrooms and saute on high heat to fry off the mushrooms – about 5-7 minutes.
Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
Add 2 full ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice plus the saffron, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture.
Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes total. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Keep it on the wet side as it will continue to absorb water and get drier as you serve it and eat it.
Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls with extra cheese sprinkled on top.