Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto

Posted 30 November 2010 by

Really, this should be Risotto ai funghi e prezzemolo, but the prezzemolo means parsley, and this ain’t got none. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe, from Jamie’s Italy, and it’s fab. I’ve made it four or five times now, it may even become my “signature dish” as it were. Maybe. It’s takes a little bit of time. I did read that risotto is actually supposed to be a quick and easy  dinner for busy Italian mamas to cook up for their bambinos. I’ve not really got the quick and easy bit down, but it’s well worth the time and effort.

Mushroom and parmesan risotto

So, yeah. There’s no parsley in this, but otherwise it’s pretty much Jamie’s recipe. I once ordered a mushroom risotto at a restaurant that tasted like they’d just poured in a tin of cream of mushroom soup (which they probably had). This is nothing like that. The mushrooms are added at the last minute, so they’re not really the star of the show, and don’t in any way overpower the rest of the dish. Also, there’s no cream. Risotto should be creamy, but definitely does not require actual cream. The butter and parmesan, and the starch from the rice, sort that out.

Here are the ingredients (to serve 4):

For the risotto

  • 1 l stock (preferably chicken, vegetable will do)
  • 400 g risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • 1 large onion (I used 3 shallots)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 glasses of white wine
  • 70 g butter
  • 120 g parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice

For the mushroom bit

  • 200 g mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • bunch of fresh thyme
  • a clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper

Some of the mushrooms are used as garnish, so it’s nice to have some pretty-looking mushrooms. I think oyster mushrooms work well here. This time, I picked up a pack of “wild mushrooms”, which included about four different types, including oyster mushrooms, and a dubious specimen that may or may not have been a poisonous toadstool.

To prepare, I thoroughly washed the mushrooms. Always wash your mushrooms, unless you want to risk Monica looking like this:

So, wash & chop the mushrooms (leave a few pretty ones unchopped) and sautée them in olive oil for a few minutes. Jamie recommends starting the mushrooms once the risotto is well on the way, but I prefer to start them off first.

For the risotto, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil and butter for about 15 minutes, over a low heat. They need to be soft, but not browned. This is the soffrito. Really, I think this should have celery and carrot in it, but I’ve not gone that authentic yet.

Meanwhile, the stock should be in its own pan, simmering. Once the onions are nice and soft, add the rice and turn up the heat. Try not to let it burn. the rice should now become a bit translucent around the edges. Try not to become so distracted by taking photos and/or watching Buzzcocks on catchup that you start to see toasty-brown bits of rice.

After a minute or two, add the white wine, deglazing the pan. Keep stirring! Once the wine has been absorbed, add the first ladle of stock and turn down the heat.

Allow the rice to absorb the stock, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking/burning. Once the stock has been absorbed, add the next ladle-full. Meanwhile, add to the mushrooms the garlic, butter and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Put the pan in the oven at 200° C to roast.

Keep cooking the risotto & adding the stock until the risotto is a texture that is almost ready to eat, a bit like pasta al dente. There still should be a bite to it, but not too crunchy/starchy.

When the risotto is done, chop up half of the mushrooms and add them, with the parmesan and butter, to the risotto. Turn off the heat, cover the risotto and leave to sit for about two minutes. This last step gets the risotto really creamy. Taste the risotto, season if necessary and stir through enough lemon juice to counterbalance the cheesiness of the parmesan. Serve, with the remaining mushrooms scattered over the top.

I nearly forgot to add the lemon juice this time, and one time I did forget. It makes a big difference. Whether its supposed to counterbalance the earthiness of the mushrooms or, as I think, to cut through the cheesiness of the parmesan, it’s definitely necessary.

In future, I would avoid adding salt until the end of cooking the risotto. The parmesan and stock make it quite salty already, so the dish is in danger of going too salty. As I said before, the mushrooms are in no way dominant, thanks to being added at the last minute, so even mushroom-dislikers may be ok. The main flavours are the parmesan and lemon, with a background of chicken stock and white wine, and hints of mushroom, garlic and thyme. It’s well worth becoming one’s signature dish.

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