Posts Tagged ‘Asparagus’

Risotto to make you happy

May 10, 2010

Mushroom and asparagus risotto

Many people are frightened of risotto and I was too until I made my first one with my friend Liz many many moons ago, I seem to remember that we used almost a whole bottle of wine in it. It was slightly stodgy (a bit winey) but in our opinion a raging success none the less.

Risotto is my favourite comfort food, it is super easy to make and with a large glass of vino and a couple of episodes of Sex and the City will turn any bad day into a great day – guaranteed!!

I think one of the scary things for people about risotto is the “constant stirring” element. To be perfectly honest – I love it, it is therapeutic almost meditative. AND….it is very important to note that if you don’t stir the risotto for a couple of minutes the world will not end.

Risotto is very versatile, I have chosen mushroom because I had quite a lot of mushies to use but there are many many many different kinds of risotto you can try. I usually use what ever I have in the fridge. A few good suggestions are:

– Spinach
– Herb and Lemon (parsley, basil, rocket are good)
– Roasted butternut pumpkin (with spinach if you like)
– Left over roasted chicken thrown in with some lemon or herbs
– Peas and a wee bit of fresh mint
– Mushroom, pea and asparagus
– Asparagus and mint
– Roasted cauliflower
– Char grilled courgettes, fresh corn and oven roasted cherry tomatoes

There really are so many different options!

Anyway I will get onto the recipe:

300 grams arborio rice
Vegetable or chicken stock (I usually used 1 1/2 stock cubes)
1 medium brown onions
4 – 6 cloves of garlic
1 glass of dry white wine (ideally one you would drink not “cooking” wine)
1 – 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan as finely grated as you can (Reggiano is best but Padano will be fine) please do not buy pre-grated, fake Parmesan (non-Italian) or dried Parmesan.

Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Fresh Thyme leaves are good)
Mushrooms approx 500 grams (swiss browns, chestnut, button, Portobello, field whatever you have or a mixture)

Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Good unsalted butter (lightly salted will do but unsalted preferable)

****TIP: If I have some wine left over which I know won’t be drunk I pop it in a small freezer bag and put it in the freezer. This is perfect for risotto. If you don’t have wine a dry vermouth will work just as well.

Use a heavy based medium to large pot or heavy based large (deep) frying pan. Add a decent glug of olive oil to the pot (approx 3 – 4 tablespoons), finely dice the onion and garlic and add to the pot with a good pinch of salt. I usually add the onion, garlic and oil to a cold pan then warm up – tends to prevent it browning. Saute until soft and the sharp onion smell has gone and been replaced with a lovely sweet smell. This should take about 10 minutes. Make sure you do not brown the onions – so keep on a low heat.

Onion and garlic being sauteed

***TIP: If the onions/garlic do start to brown add a little bit more olive oil which will immediately drop the oil temp and stop the browning, take off the heat for a minute or two.

Add rice and stir until coated in oil and warmed through, rice should be hot. Add a glass of white wine, and stir until the wine has been absorbed fully by the rice.

Rice added to onion and garlic

Now add piping hot stock about 1 cup at a time. I cheat with this by boiling the kettle and adding in the stock cubes direct to the pot pouring boiling water from the kettle on top.

I actually find this works best as you know exactly how much flavour (stock) you have added and the amount of liquid is on an “as you need” basis. However if you have lovely home-made stock definitely use that!!

If you are using liquid stock heat it up and keep it hot and ladle the stock one ladle at a time.

Keep stirring the risotto adding about 1 cup or 1 ladle of stock/hot water at a time. Make sure the stock is almost fully absorbed before you add your next cup/ladle of stock/water.

While you are doing this saute the sliced mushrooms in a separate pan, ideally a large frying pan DO NOT ADD SALT this will draw out the moisture and make the mushrooms stew. If you do not have a large frying pan do them in 2 batches. Saute in some butter and a splash of olive oil. Once they are cooked add Salt and Pepper and some chopped herbs. Or you can bake sliced mushrooms in the oven with butter, olive oil until they are cooked through – approx 25 mins at 190 degrees celsius. Once they are cooked keep the mushrooms to the side.

Sliced portobello and chestnut mushrooms with butter, olive oil and fresh thyme

Keep doing this for about 20 mins, I usually start trying the rice to see if it is cooked about this time. Keep going with the stock until you are happy with the rice, it will need to be cooked until it has a little bit of a bite “al dente”.

The consistency should not be to stodgy, if it is, add a little bit more liquid.

Add mushrooms, a knob of butter, any chopped herbs and Parmesan. Stir vigorously shaking the pot at the same time. If it is getting too thick add a little bit of extra boiling water.

Taste and season if necessary.

This should serve 3 – 4 hungry people. Serve with a lovely fresh leafy salad.

I normally serve this is a low pasta type bowl with a drizzle of best quality peppery extra virgin olive oil on top.

Left overs:

If you have any leftovers, you can roll it into small golf ball sizes, use wet hands to prevent sticking. Roll in some flour, egg and then bread crumbs then deep fat fry until golden brown. You can also add a small piece of mozzarella into the center for a little bit of gooey fun. These can be served as an entrée with garlic aioli or with a tomato and basil sauce and a salad as a main course. YUMMY!