For many years, my wife and I used to make a mushroom risotto that was offered in one of the old Delia Smith recipe books. The Smith method of cooking a risotto broke every rule there is – the dish was essentially baked in an earthenware dish until the rice softened and absorbed the available liquid. If an Italian read the recipe, he would be flabbergasted. But as a gateway dish, it was better than the under-seasoned nonsense I was served in Gusto in Knutsford, which was putting itself out there as an Italian restaurant.
Later, when we learned to cook risotto properly, we were guided by Ursula Ferrigno and her book Truly Italian. This book was an all-vegetarian celebration of the multi-stage Italian banquet, and the star dish for us was the mushroom risotto. This adds rosemary as an earthy herb that eats very well with the softened mushrooms. If we are feeling frisky, we might put a poached egg on top of the finished dish, because the egg yolk running into the mushrooms is incredibly good.
Risotto con funghi
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 25g unsalted butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 100ml dry white wine
- 6 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 500g chestnut mushrooms, chunked
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
- 350g carnaroli risotto rice
- 1l hot vegetable stock (it can be helpful to have a bit extra)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Fry the garlic in the butter and oil until coloured. Add the shallot, and wine, and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Add the rice and rosemary and stir to coat in the wine and butter. Add ladlefuls of hot stock one at a time. At the half-way mark, add the mushrooms. Stir continuously, until the stock is all used up and the rice is creamy. You may need to add more stock to get the right result.
Stir in some salt and pepper, the parsley and Parmesan.
Cover for 1 minute to allow the rice to rest, then serve at once on warmed plates.
While this recipe calls for vegetable stock to make it fully vegetarian, a better result can be achieved with chicken stock if you are allowed that in your diet. A nice finish to this dish is to pop a warm poached egg on top (see picture).