Risotto is one of my favourite meals. If made well, it can be so comforting and delicious. My wild mushroom risotto is a perfect mid week meal, when you feel in the vegetarian mood. It does take a little longer than my usual 30-minute busy working day meals I prefer to make but hey, its something to enjoy cooking whilst relaxing with music after a busy day. And it can be quite therapeutic stirring the mixture and watching the rice grains soak up all that gorgeous flavour. To save money once, I used lemon juice instead of white wine. This has been such a good discovery as it gives that acidity that wine does too and tastes just as good. This recipe contains lemon juice and works really well against the rich cheese.
I was reading a Waitrose magazine the other day and they gave some information about the three most common rice grains: Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. I tend to use Arborio and this is most common in supermarkets. It produces a plumper and stickier risotto and is great for absorbing flavours. Carnaroli rice is preferred by top chefs, as it produces a far creamier risotto. I am tempted to get my hands on this one day. Vialone Nano is a smaller grain and produces a looser risotto. It is preferred by Venetians.
I suspect there will be many risottos made on Masterchef: The Professionals this year, which started on BBC 1 this week. I am very excited to see what happens in the series and will enjoy watching them cook even more challenging dishes.
Recipe (serves 2)
- 120g Arborio rice
- 1 – 1 ½ pints of boiling water
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 200g wild mushrooms (you can get frozen ones from Waitrose)
- 1 large celery stick, peeled and diced into small cubes
- ½ large onion or 1 small onion, peeled and diced into small cubes
- 2 sprigs of thyme finely chopped
- 2-3 large squeezes of lemon juice from a bottle, or ½ a lemon
- 1 large clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- Avocado oil for frying
- 40g grated parmesan cheese
- 60g grated cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Get all your ingredients ready. This makes it so much quicker and easier to begin.
- Place about a tablespoon of avocado oil in a deep pan and heat. Avocado oil has a high smoke point of around 270oC and so this means that it doesn’t burn as easily as olive oil and is in fact better to cook with. The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is around 160o
- Fry the onions and celery until soft and tender. You may want to use a lid to steam them slightly. Add more oil if required, so the vegetables do not burn.
- Add the mushrooms at this stage and fry until tender. Also add the garlic.
- Fry the risotto rice with the mixture to toast the grains slightly.
- Mix one stock cube with 1 pint of boiling water and gradually add this to the pan until the rice absorbs it all. Make sure to stir in the thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Do this whilst the stock is being absorbed.
- Add another ½ pint of boiling water gradually if needed.
- Stir in the cheese until melted.
- Serve in pasta bowls or elegantly on plates.
This dish can be really straightforward to make and the key is flavour and attention. Risottos like stirring to bring out the creamy starch in the rice grains. It is the perfect mid week comfort treat and also very reasonable if you are on a budget.