Updated: Dec 14, 2019
A good Monday night use-up of Sunday's roast chicken - or keep it veggie without
First things first - I defy even David Bailey to make mushroom risotto - the most griege of foods (in looks, but not taste) look appetising in a photo. And yes, that is the kitchen floor that I've put the plate on to try and get a vaguely decent photo. But, looks aside, this larder-loving recipe (ie most of it comes from the larder or left overs) is such a good one to have in your arsenal and I'm going to break it down so risotto no longer holds any fears for anyone, ever (unless you have a terrible rice allergy).
What you'll need:
Serves 2, with plenty of leftovers...
A heavy-based saucepan, large enough to really get some stirring done.
Couple of jugs (oooh er)
Chopping board, knife etc
1 onion, finely chopped
250g risotto rice
Knob of butter
Splosh (or two) of cooking brandy or marsala
Fresh rosemary - about tsp once finely chopped
Dried porcini mushrooms, allowed to soak for a few mins in a jug of about 300ml water
1pt mushroom stock (Knorr stock pot will do)
5 or 6 large chestnut mushrooms
Splosh of milk
President Emmental cheese to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional - left over roast chicken
How to make it...
Start by sweating the onion in the olive oil and butter. As it's cooking boil the kettle and get two jugs out - in one make up a mushroom stock using a Knorr jelly thing, and in the other shake in a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. Cover that one in about half a pint of boiling water and let sit. Once the onion is translucent add the risotto rice (my amounts are very generous for two - as mentioned before in this blog, my husband and I are pure gluttons) and give it a good stir so that all the grains are covered in the buttery fat. Also at this point add in some chopped fresh rosemary - I only used the green leaves of an old stalk I'd picked the day before from the garden. Just run the knife over it a bit and pop it in.
Before the grains start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add in a good splash or two of brandy or marsala. Don't hold back - the alcohol will burn off but the flavour it imparts is tremendous.
At this stage you are now, I'm afraid, tied to the stove. It's stir, stir, stir from now on as the point is that you release all the ooziness from the rice by knocking it about a bit (I'm sure there's a technical term, but blowed if I can be bothered to look it up). It's worth thinking at this stage of your other ingredients as the constant stirring can shred delicate ones - roasted butternut squash for example or blue cheese - so you'd end up with them as all part of the ooze.
Anyway - back to our risotto. Once the booze has disappeared into the rice grains start adding your stock. First I pour, using a mini sieve, the water from the porcini mushrooms, gradually adding it a bit at a time and constantly stirring as the liquid is absorbed. Once that mushroomy water is used up, tip the now floppy porcini mushrooms onto a board and run the knife over them. As the rice dictates, keep adding the other mushroom stock and as you do this, add in some sliced chestnut mushrooms too. I think about now is ok to add these ingredients as they'll cook through but not disappear into the ooze.
If you're adding leftover roast chicken then now is the time to do it too, so that it warms through and imparts some chicken flavour. I also had some leftover jelly from the carving board after the bird had rested yesterday, so I added that in too. Yum.
Towards the end of the stock being used up, have a taste. Add lots of black pepper, freshly milled, and taste for salt. Lots of people would add parmesan now, but a) I didn't have any and b) the nutty mildness of Emmental 'aint half bad with the 'shrooms and it provided the final gooeyness we needed - the rice had done the rest. A splash of milk if needed to thin it out, or help it along to being tender and done. Serve with fresh greens, or as I did with roasted fennel (see below) and crumbled up roasted fennel fronds as garnish on top.
To roast fennel:
Simply take a fennel bulb and chop the hard bottom off (about 1cm would do). Remove some of the outer petals and then cut the fatter, harder bulb into wedges. Toss them all on a baking tray with a little olive oil and salt and roast at 200C (standard) for about 45 mins. Pop some of the fronds in too for about 20mins of the roasting time - these are lovely and crunchy and make a good garnish!
As I said, this could be purely vegetarian if you don't add the left over chicken - and dare I say it, without butter it could even be vegan? Don't quote me on that though. Sometimes I go overboard and splash a bit of truffle oil on top - some would say the ersatz oils we get here in England would ruin it, but since my spirit animal is probably a truffle pig, I'm good for it.
I'll add more recipes for different risottos - but this one is such a classic and only requires one or two (at most) fresh ingredients, so really is a larder than life special!