19 January 2013

Real Mushroom Risotto

One of the lovely pressies I got for Christmas is a new cookbook called Polpo. It is an oddly bound large book with lots of very lovely photos of Italian dishes. There are lots that I intend to try out. Today I decided I would make a risotto and one that caught my fancy is risi e bisi, which is risotto with fresh green peas and mint.


So I went shopping. And as the weather forecast predicts snow, the supermarkets were more crammed with people than Christmas time - everyone was stocking up, like we'll be snowed in for months on end. That never really crossed my mind, there's always enough food in the larder and freezer to last us at least a week. So gathering together everything on my shopping list took quite a bit longer. And I had to drive around one of the car parks four times before I found a spot to park, just so I could get some frozen peas.

Now the recipe was very clear that frozen peas shouldn't be used, but freshly picked ones and in the shell too. Non-negotiable the book said. Well, not in January. This would be the compromise.

But when I got home, I kind of fancied something with mushrooms and thought I'd just add some to the recipe. But thinking further, the combination peas, mint and mushrooms just didn't quite ring right and in the end, I decided to skip the peas and the whole risi e bisi recipe and make up my own one.

6 portions

1 largish onion
50 ml olive oil
30 g unsalted butter
400 g carnaroli rice
freshly milled black pepper
1 l water
3 cubes of chicken stock
600 ml mushroom stock
1 can of sliced button mushrooms
1 dl parboiled girolles
200 ml water
1 tbsp olive oil infused with white truffle


  1. Peel and dice thee onion. Heat up the olive oil and butter in a large deep saucepan until it starts bubbling.
  2. Add the onion and sprinkle a little salt over it, stir round to get it coated in the oil, then turn down the heat so that it just about bubbles. It will seem like too much oil for the onion, but this is OK. Let it fry gently for about 10 minutes until it goes translucent.
  3. In the mean time, boil 1 l water and stir in 3 chicken stock cubes.
  4. Place the chicken stock in a saucepan and add the mushroom stock, then place on very low heat to keep it hot, but not boiling.
  5. When the onion is ready, add the rice and stir it in for a couple of minutes to get it well coated with the oil. Mill some black pepper over the rice and stir in.
  6. Using a large ladle, add one at a time to the rice and keep stirring it around until all the liquid has been taken up before pouring in the next ladle-full.
  7. About two-thirds into adding the stock, stir in the mushrooms.
  8. Once all the stock has been added, taste the rice, if it still has crunch to it, add a ladle or two of water. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.
  9. The risotto should be served straight away. Drizzle the olive oil infused with white truffle and stir it in.

First a word of warning, the trick is in the constant slow stirring of the rice and adding the stock a little at a time. This took me about 30 minutes, which is tiring, so make sure not to do other heavy work with your arms before starting with this dish. As it happened today, I had quite a few bags to carry home. I then spent an hour and a half pulling nails and screws out of some planks in preparation for burning them in our new woodburning stove. And I'd also made a batch of bread, since Luke, my new sourdough starter, was getting hungry. Thus my arms were pretty tired to begin with and I felt it towards the end of the risotto cooking.

A quick search among all my blog entries, I spotted that I've already done a "mushroom risotto", but skimming through it quickly, I've basically made rice with mushrooms, it's quite obvious from the photo even that there was no creaminess involved. Bah, such cheating! I am ashamed of myself!

As to the mushroom stock - this was the liquid from 5 cans of mushrooms. I always save the mushroom stock and freeze it. I had 4 frozen ones and I added the one from the can I needed for the mushrooms. Mind you, this is the only liquid from canned food that I save.

Of course it may not be possible to get hold of girolles everywhere and in this particular case I think shiitake mushrooms would work nicely instead. Just make sure to parboil them first to get rid of all the water they contain.

We had this lovely risotto for dinner together with hot smoked salmon and it was absolutely delicious.

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