Yesterday I shared some valuable facts with you all about car breakdowns and pasta bakes which take at least 3 times longer than the jar suggests. From this, you’d be excused for assuming that I am not particularly capable in the kitchen department. You would be wrong! Kind of. I enjoy cooking a lot, and there are several dishes I would say I have ‘mastered’, but I wouldn’t say my skills are intuitive and it frequently doesn’t turn out quite how I hoped, so I don’t get anywhere near the results that some foodie bloggers do. However, I’ve decided to write a blog about it anyway (complete with recipe, as suggested by new found publishing friend @Zoe_CF), which is both an exciting and scary prospect. Please, no disparaging comments that I’ve done it wrong; I don’t really know whether this is the correct way to make risotto, but it WORKS (and from a quick google it does seem to be about right).
So here goes…
Last night I was super hungry, my dinner date had been cancelled and I was close to driving home via Waitrose to pick something up. Instead, I remembered having bought the ingredients for risotto in our latest shop and decided to persevere with it.
I know it’s not cricket to blow your own trumpet on these sorts of things but it was AMAZING. Every time I make risotto I get a little bit excited about how far I’ve progressed since my early uni days. It looks and tastes like a real risotto now!
I’ll try to write it out in a way that is easy to understand, but I can’t help but narrate it as I go, it’s the way I work.
Chop three shallots (yes, I think they do have to be shallots, I don’t think it would work with strong onions. As an aside, I did this by accident. I don’t normally use onions in risotto, but it worked quite well, so I say go for it. But you don’t have to).
Make sure they are chopped well so that they cook down properly. I had a stressful few minutes trying to dig out those bits which end up joined together because of the rooty bit at the end, if you know what I mean.
Heat some butter (risotto involves a fair amount of butter – it is not the healthiest thing you can cook).
Add the shallots. Fry GENTLY (burnt bits in risotto is less than ideal).
Crush two cloves of garlic.
Add to onions and fry a bit more.
Chop 250g of CHESTNUT mushrooms (definitely use chestnut mushrooms, it makes allll the difference).
Chop them quite finely so that they become part of the risotto; I put aside 4 or so smaller ones and just chopped them in half/quarters to add some more proper ‘chunks’ to it.
Add the chopped mushrooms to the onions. Mushrooms for some reason ABSORB the liquid you are cooking with, which can be a pain when you’re frying them because they can stick. Add a good glob of olive oil to stop everything burning. As the mushrooms continue to cook they will then start to break down and release it back.
Continue to fry gently.
Measure out your risotto rice. I use 140g for one regular size portion (you don’t need a lot of risotto – it’s filling and slightly unhealthy) and 1 boy sized portion.
Add a generous splash of white wine, fry down for a few minutes, add another chunk of butter (mmmm butter), stir, then stir in your rice. Make sure it is well coated with the buttery oil. Mmmmm.
Make up 1/2 litre of stock. I use Marigold swiss vegetable bouillon and I think it is the best for risottos. I guess if you weren’t so bothered you could use any kind of stock, but you don’t want anything which overrides the flavours of the mushrooms and vegetable stock is quite complimentary.
Pour in enough stock to cover the rice, add a small amount of salt and a large amount of ground black pepper and stir, then make sure rice is covered.
This is the slightly tedious bit. Pour in stock, leave to simmer, stir (in my case, scrape off the bottom of the pan – I find it seems to stick quite a lot but scrapes off well if not burnt so just go for it), add more stock etc.
I try to do it in about 4 pour/simmer/stir sections. Don’t forget to TASTE and if in doubt add more wine and more pepper.
Once you’re getting towards the end it should have pretty much absorbed all the stock yet still be quite wet, with a buttery, mushroomy sauce.
When you’re ready, turn off the heat and stir through a generous amount of parmesan. This taste gorgeous and kind of binds any liquid into more of a sticky consistency.
(Sorry the picture isn’t great, the lighting was abit odd. It’s nicer than it looks, promise!)