This week, we're making mushroom risotto!
For a while, I thought I wasn't going to bother with a mushroom risotto recipe until I started running out of recipes. Mushroom risotto is one of those things that are served everywhere as the easy vegetarian option, and practically everyone has a recipe for it. The reason I decided to post one anyway is because I absolutely adore risotto. There's something soothing about risotto: lots of chopping, then lots of stirring. If you've never made risotto, now is absolutely the time to start, as I've made sure this recipe explains exactly what to do and is illustrated with in-progress pictures. So let's start!
The GW2 recipe calls for 'mushrooms', which judging by the picture I always took to be champignon or button mushrooms, and portobello's. In fact, you can use almost any mushroom or combination of mushrooms. I do recommend using more than one type of mushroom, as it will give the dish more flavour. Some of the mushrooms are mixed into the risotto, the rest is served on the side, as you don't want to clutter up the risotto too much. Mushrooms you can use for this include, but are not limited to, button mushrooms, portobello, chanterelle, shimeji, nameko (Pholiota), shiitake, oyster mushrooms, or horse mushrooms (which, oddly enough, taste of aniseed).
Note that this recipe is for 2 servings as a main course, or 4 servings as a starter (as risotto originally is). Also note that Parmesan cheese is not, and cannot be, vegetarian (if it's not made with rennet, it's not Parmesan). As risotto requires some form of fat to really be a creamy risotto, you can replace Parmesan cheese with butter. Or you can just use butter if you don't like Parmesan. Most recipes add a lot more Parmesan than I do, but you can just add more to taste!
180-200 g risotto rice
350 g mixed mushrooms
1 medium-sized onion
2 shallots (or another medium-sized onion)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary*
1/4 tsp dried sage*
1 bay leaf*
50 ml sake or white wine*
1 liter chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
25 g grated Parmesan cheese + more cheese to taste (or 25 g butter for a vegetarian version)
4 tblsp olive oil
Finely dice the onion, shallots and garlic. Remove the hard stems from those mushrooms where it's necessary. Divide the mushrooms in two parts: chop one half quite finely, and cut the other half in rougher pieces. Bring the chicken stock to the boil.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, shallots and garlic and sauté on low to medium heat until they are soft (5-10 minutes). Add in the rice and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add in the sake or white wine and turn the heat to high. Keep stirring until all the moisture has been absorbed. Add the herbs and one ladle (125 ml or 1/2 cup) of the hot chicken stock to the rice. Keep stirring all the time: this makes the risotto nice and creamy. When all the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladleful.
|Top left: Rice-onion mixture before adding stock. Top right: After adding first ladle of stock. Lower left: After first ladle of stock has been absorbed. Lower right: After adding in finely chopped mushrooms.|
When about half the stock has been added to the rice (this should have taken about 10 minutes), turn the heat down a bit. Add the finely chopped mushrooms to the risotto along with another ladleful of stock and give it all a good stir. From now on, only stir when adding stock. Keep adding the stock as instructed. When you're nearing the end of your stock supply, really only add a little bit of stock at a time: it's easy to add more moisture when it's needed, but it's hard to take it out again! You may not need all the stock, or you may need a bit more than 1 liter. Taste a few grains of rice occassionaly to check if they're done. If they're not done yet when you've run out of stock, just use hot water until the rice is done. When the rice is done (after about 20 minutes), turn off the heat. Add the butter and/or Parmesan cheese and stir until this is melted. Now taste the risotto and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes. If you're running late with other cookery things, transfer the risotto to an ovenproof dish, cover the dish and place it in an oven at 100 degrees centigrade until you're ready for it.
In another pan, heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the coarsely chopped mushrooms to the pan and fry over medium heat. When the mushrooms have turned a nice golden brown, turn the heat way down, just enough to keep the mushrooms warm.
Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve the risotto on warm plates with the mushrooms spooned unto it. Let every person add more grated Parmesan to taste. Enjoy!
*: If you don't have this, don't fret: the recipe works without it too
Tip: I like to fry mushrooms in a shallow pan to prevent me overcrowding them. Putting too many mushrooms in the pan will make them 'sweat' and you'll end up with a pile of soggy mushrooms. It's better to fry them in two portions if you have too many to fit in a single layer in one pan.
Tip: To warm plates, you can either put them in an oven at 75-100 degrees centigrade, or place them over a pan with boiling water (don't forget to wipe them dry if you take that last suggestion!). Be careful when handling them!
What to do with leftovers
When I'm cooking just for me, I often end up making a two-person meal anyway because some ingredients just don't come in small quantities. If you have left-over risotto, you can make a tasty luncheon bite the next day. Let the risotto cool down completely, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day, make little balls of the risotto (no larger than a table tennis ball). If you want, you can put a little something inside each ball - a piece of cheese or ham or something - or you can leave them plain. Mix some grated Parmezan with breadcrumbs. Roll each ball through the mixture and pat the crumbs unto the balls. Fry in a bit of oil. Enjoy!