Risotto is known to be the death dish on MasterChef Australia, because of its failure rate on the cooking show. So, the thought of cooking risotto at home was a daunting challenge for me. Since hubby really really really loves risotto, I set out to make his favorite Porcini Risotto.
I’ve learned the key elements to a successful risotto from an article by Matt Preston:
- Choose a starchy rice such as arborio and toast the rice before adding the wine and stock.
- Select the right stock for your risotto.
- The flavors – think about whether you should cook ingredients with the risotto or separate. Ideally, cook ingredients such as scallops or asparagus separate to the risotto and stir in just before serving.
- And most importantly, the texture. The rice can not be chalky or crunchy (undercooked) nor can it be gluggy (overcooked) – so al dente is the goal.
- Lastly, risotto needs to be creamy. The creaminess comes from the starches released from the rice, so constant stirring is needed.
I’ve learned there is no precise recipe that could yield the perfect risotto, the recipe serves more like a guideline, so you need to play it by eye and taste when you cook this dish.
There are really 2 schools of thought about risotto consistency, some like a looser consistency with more liquid and some prefer a thicker one. Hubby and I prefer the latter.
I’ve made this Porcini Risotto recipe twice and hubby raved about it both times (which is rare, given his ridiculously high standards). He loved it so much, he kept asking me how difficult it was to make and if it was something he could do. I proposed to give him the recipe and let him give it a try, he eagerly accepted. Now, I’ll just have to sit and wait to see if and when he will cook me his first meal (yes, he’s never cooked before and instant noodles don’t count).
30g dried porcini mushrooms
125g fresh mushrooms, such as cremini, sliced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g risotto rice, such as arborio
1 vegetable stock cube
85mL dry white wine
12g unsalted butter
25g parmesan cheese, grated
few springs of parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
Soak the dried porcini mushroom in 1L of hot water for 20 minutes in a large bowl. While the porcini is soaking, finely chop the onion and garlic cloves. Chop the fresh mushrooms into slices.
When the porcini mushrooms have softened, take them out of the water and gently squeeze to remove the excess liquid. Roughly chop the porcini mushrooms.
Pour the soaking water into a pot and discard the last tbsp or 2 of water than has the grit (sunk to the bottom of the bowl). Add the vegetable stock cube to the pot of porcini soaking water and heat on hight heat until the stock boils. Then turn the heat to the lowest setting, to let it gently simmer.
In a large shallow saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onions for about 5 minutes until the onions soften and turn translucent. Stir in the porcini and fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 8 minutes until the fresh mushrooms have soften.
Add the rice with the onions and mushrooms and cook for a minute. Then add the white wine and cook for another minute or 2 until the alcohol evaporates. Add a ladle of stock, allow to simmer and stir the rice often until the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladle at a time and cook until the rice becomes plump and the consistency is creamy.
Keep checking to see if the rice is cooked. There may be more stock than needed, but if there is not enough and the rice is still uncooked, add some hot water to finish. You really need this to play this by eye and taste.
When the rice is cooked to al dente (after cooking the for rice for 20 minutes or so), remove the pan off the heat and add the butter, parmesan cheese and parsley. If there is excess liquid in the risotto cover the pan and let sit for a few minutes, otherwise serve and enjoy~~