Risotto is at once classic, luxurious, and far less tricky than people think. As I have guests with different dietary requirements (some vegetarian, some not), it’s easy to do a common risotto and add on 2 different toppings.
This risotto is inspired by a Peter Gordon recipe, where he combines truffle, lemongrass & scallops to great effect. If you can’t get lemongrass, use lemon zest (different but still delicious). Fabulous scallops from our local fishmonger make this a “lush’ dish, as Tom Kerridge would put it. For the vegetarians, some sautéed wild mushrooms will do the job. By substituting vegetarian stock for the risotto base, you can keep it strictly vegetarian.
A risotto in 4 simple steps (easy to memorise!)
1. The flavour base – onions /leeks, and optionally garlic, carrots, celery
2. Some white wine to deglaze
3. Risotto rice and stock in the ratio of 1:5 approximately by volume.
4. Freshly grated parmesan to finish off.
Truffle Risotto with Scallops (or Mushrooms)
Having a good risotto recipe in your repertoire is very handy, and I rely on Mario Batali’s fail-safe proportions and then tweak the flavours to suit my needs (see above for the 4 steps to perfect risotto).
A word about portions- the quantity below is for a smallish main course portion. Risotto can be quite heavy to eat, so I prefer to keep the portions small. If you look at traditional recipes, this quantity will often be stated for 4 – 6 people. If making for a party, see notes below to plan ahead.
Prepare the lemongrass by bashing it with a rolling pin. Doing that releases the oils and also dislodges a hard inedible core. Finely chop the inner soft section and retain the woody parts.
Heat the stock in a pan, and make a bouquet garni with the woody lemongrass (i.e. either tie in a bit of cheesecloth, or if you have a small closed tea strainer, use that). If not you can add the lemongrass directly to the stock, and strain before using. Keep stock on low simmer.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium heat. Add the leek/onion and chopped lemongrass. Cook until softened and translucent/slightly golden but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add chopped herbs.
Now add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the wine to the toasting rice, and let it cook 30 seconds. Then add a big ladle (about 100-150ml) of the lemongrass-infused stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. You may not need all the stock.
For the scallops, heat a heavy frying pan with the butter, and as soon as the melts completely and starts foaming, add the scallops and cook for 1 minute on each side. Smaller ones should be used unsliced, and cooked for under 1 minute. Season lightly. Scallops taste rubbery if overcooked, so keep err on the side of caution whilst cooking them.
For the mushroom topping, stir fry the mushrooms in the oil and butter on high heat, until golden. Add a few soft herbs is desired. (can be done ahead)
When ready to serve the risotto - stir in the Parmesan, truffle oil and spring onion greens, until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Portion risottos into 8 warmed serving plates, and place the scallops or mushrooms on top. Serve with lemon wedges.
- If making ahead, complete everything until the addition of rice (step 4).
- 20 minutes before you plan to serve, reheat the rice and continue from step 5.
- The mushrooms can be fried in advance and reheated.
- Keep the parmesan, greens and truffle oil, mixed together in a bowl, for quick addition in the end.