Friday 17 June 2011

Porcini and Courgette Risotto

This is the most versatile way to make risotto; I made it so that you can pick any ingredients to be the star of the show. I happened to make mine courgette and dried porcini mushrooms. Porcini mushrooms are a great addition because they add a delicious smoky flavour that you wouldn’t normally get with regular fresh mushrooms. Cooking risotto can be time consuming so make sure you have enough time to complete the task because it has to be watched. The key is to make sure there is a constant temperature similarity to the rice and the stock so that the pan doesn’t lose heat when you add the stock to cook the rice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, although this is not my lightest recipe, it's still fun to have a go at a decadent meal. This recipe feeds 3-4 people.

1 ½ c (~200-250g) arborio rice
40g dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated (or use whatever types you’d like)
2 small courgettes
3-4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
8-10 leaves of sage
1 c (200-250g) freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 glass of white wine
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
½ lemon
6-8 cups of chicken stock (or make 3 bouillon cubes as directed and add another cup to thin it down)
Fresh pepper

To start:
Dice onion and garlic separate into two halves.
Dice or slice courgettes any way you like.
Rehydrate mushrooms in hot water, drain and dice. If using fresh, just dice and set aside.
In a saucepan heat your stock to a simmer, and keep it hot.

In a large deep sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp. of oil and half the butter.
When hot add the courgettes, mushrooms, half the onion and garlic and sauté until al dente.
Remove from the pan and set aside.

To start the Risotto:
In the same large sauté pan heat the remaining butter and oil, and turn up your stock if not at a good simmer.
Add the rice, remaining onions, garlic, and sage leaves and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened, being careful not to brown/burn the rice.
Add the glass of wine and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed by the rice. You should have a very low boil here, keep it consistent and your rice will cook perfectly
Next, add 1-2 ladles full of stock.
Make sure the sauté pan is hot enough so the stock will boil into the rice.
Stir continuously until most of the liquid is absorbed into the rice, repeat until the rice is just tender, this process could take 15-20 minutes.
Squeeze in half the lemon just after the rice is getting softer and stir to combine.
When the rice is tender and cooked al dente, there should be a creamy consistency.
Add the parmesan cheese, courgettes and mushrooms right in the end.
And you're done.

Note: The trick to risotto is watching it carefully, it should be thick and creamy and spread when it hits the plate, it should also have a slight bite but one that’s enjoyable. If it’s looking like you need more stock just make a quick batch and keep adding until you get the consistency you desire. The ingredients can be very variable, I’ve added prawns to mine at the last ladle of stock, or you could add salmon chunks or anything you’d like really.

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