Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Porcini risotto

Build it and they will come. Or in my case - cook it and she will eat it. My wife doesn't like risotto. She mentions it a-plenty when there's even the slightest chance that the food related thoughts I'm about to put into to audible words contain ANY reference to that wonderfully indulgent pièce de italian food résistance. And normally I would give in and go ahead and cook...soup, another stir-fry or some other culinary quick-fix. Every once in a while, however, I decide that I have been deprived for too long and, despite my lovely wife kicking and screaming (ok. it's not THAT bad), just go for it and cook a risotto. And she will it eat. And the words Mmmh, tasty will cross her lips. Everytime. Ree-SOH-toh - an Italian slow food opera in four acts.

Ingredients (serves 4 ravenous eaters as a single-course dinner or 6 as a normal portion)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3-4 stalks of celery (leaves and ends removed) and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pack (about a handful) of dried porcini, soaked 20-30 minutes at least 300ml lukewarm water, drained (reserve about 250ml of the water) and chopped
  • 2 wine glasses of dry white wine
  • 250ml reserved porcini water (for any other risotto, just leave this part out but add more stock)
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from concentrate is fine or you can also use chicken stock)
  • 400g arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 100g grated parmigiano  + more to serve
  • 75g butter, diced (return to the fridge so it stays cold)
  • Handful of chopped parsley
Method, aka food opera in four acts
  1. In the first act - the soffrito - heat the olive oil and knob of butter in a medium-large, heavy-based pan (one with handles - you need them for the final act) over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and gently fry for about 10 minutes until everything has softened but hasn't taken on any color yet.
  2. For the second act, turn up the heat, add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until it turns translucent. Pour in the white wine and keep stirring until the alcohol has evaporated and the liquid cooked into the rice.
  3. The third act is the longest one. First turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the chopped porcini and pour in the reserved porcini water and stir-massage the rice until all the liquids are absorbed. Then you begin adding il brodo - the broth/vegetable stock - one ladle at a time (you may not need the entire amount of stock!) and repeating the stir-massaging-until-absorbed routine until the rice is al dente. That is the case when the rice is soft on the outside but your teeth still find a little bit of resistance in the middle. Turn down the heat and let the rice rest for a minute.
  4. For the grande finale - the mantecatura - add the diced butter and - beat it into the rice while at the same time shaking the pan vigorously.  Think that you're trying to manually whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Repeat with the grated parmigiano. Now stir in the chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve on plates sprinkled with some more grated parmegiano on top. 
Buon Appetito!

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