What I have finally learned after years of making mediocre risottos is that the recipe books simply cannot be trusted. The thing is, what you’re cooking is white rice which tastes like a whole bunch of nothing. So, forget all that talk about texture and timing – it’s actually pretty forgiving in both those departments – the most important thing about this dish is that you need to add serious amounts of flavour. Roughly speaking, what I’ve figured out is that whatever they tell you to add, double it. Two gloves of garlic? Use four. A handful of herbs? At least two. And make your stock nice and salty. You shouldn’t have to add salt later.
And then, on top of that, if you really want to blow people’s socks off, you want to come up with some tricks. Without a doubt, the best for mushroom risotto are lemon rind, truffle oil and enough garlic to scare a Sicilian. The lemon gives it the most beautiful lift, while a drizzle of truffle oil adds a whole new flavour dimension (it’s called umami, by the way, but never mind that, you mouth will like it). So, here it is – the yummiest risotto that’s ever come out of my kitchen.
Large white onion
Two celery stalks
Five cloves of garlic
A glass of white wine
Punnet of mushrooms (doesn’t matter what kind)
Chicken stock (powdered is fine, but make sure it’s strong enough)
Plenty of fresh herbs like basil, thyme and origanum
Rind of a lemon
Truffle-flavoured olive oil (or real truffle oil if you’re fancy)
Salt and black pepper
– Finely chop your onion, carrots, celery, four cloves of garlic and most of the herbs. Fry them in a large pot in a few lugs of olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt (Maldon really is better).
– Add a small bag of risotto rice and fry it up a bit, moving it around with a wooden spoon. In a separate pot, warm your stock. Turn the heat up high on your risotto, add your glass of wine (if you’ve already drunk it, you’re my kind of cook – pour another) and let the alcohol cook away.
– Start ladling your stock into the risotto, stirring regularly, one ladle at a time.
– In a frying pan, fry your sliced mushrooms on high. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. When they’re almost done, add a chopped clove of garlic, a pat of butter and the remainder of the herbs.
– Keep adding stock and stirring your risotto
– Taste it – when it seems cooked but still has a bit of a bite, you’re pretty much there. Add your cooked mushrooms with the juices from the pan and stir them in along with the rind of a lemon.
– Add a bit of black pepper and about two cups of finely grated parmesan cheese.
– Serve it with an extra twist of pepper, a drizzle of truffle oil and more parmesan cheese. Heaven.