A great risotto starts with a high-quality Italian rice (isn’t it always the same). Here is a simple recipe for a mushroom risotto (we always have dried mushrooms in the pantry) which you can enjoy as a main dish or like we did, we some fresh winter vegetables (allows you to use the stock from the boiled vegetable) and Marlborough lamb racks. Always prepare the risotto when everyone is ready to sit down. If we have guests, Hans starts to cook the risotto whilst our friends sit around the kitchen bench, watch and comment with a fine glass of Arneis in hand, Cheers!
Ingredients (Serves 4 people as a starter)
280g Carnaroli rice
100ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt & black pepper
120g fresh Shiitake or about 50g dried mushroom (e.g. Porcini mix)
50g Pecorino, grated
1 cube organic vegetable stock (e.g. Kallo) for one litre (ideally cook fresh vegetables on the same time and use that stock to replenish if more stock is needed)
Fresh sage leaves, about 4 table spoon, whole
50 to 100 ml cream, whipped
Juice of a half fresh lemon
Method (approx 20 minutes)
(Use a large, wide pan, so that the rice, when covered with the stock, cooks evenly.)
Heat the pan for a few minutes before pouring in the rice, followed by the olive oil and stir for 2 minutes on full heat.
Pour in half of the stock and continue to stir.
Reduce heat and bring to simmer.
Add a teaspoon of sea salt.
Season with plenty of black pepper.
Add whole sage leaves and press the garlic cloves directly in the rice, continue to stir.
Add more stock so the rice is always simmering.
Taste the rice to check if it is cooked. If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite (al dente as the Italians say). Do not forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
Once al dente, add the grated cheese and butter and carefully stir in.
Finish off with whipped cream for a lighter consistency.
Add the lemon juice to lift the flavours.
If you have fresh mushrooms, pan sear for a few minutes in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and add to the finished rice!
Tip: heat your stock in a second pan, separately, and keep it simmering so that when you add it to the rice, it is already hot. You can use fresh stock or a stock cube – whatever you have got. If you have any veg trimmings or fresh herb stalks to hand, add those to your stock as it simmers to bump up the flavour. The tastier the stock, the tastier the risotto. We often cook fresh vegetables on the same time as another side to the risotto and use the stock to top up the risotto (bring hot water to boil (enough to cover the veggies), add a cube of vegetable stock, chilli flakes, salt and boil the veggies until al dente.