Serves 10 • 45 min • Medium
I have a long and illustrious history with risotto. Today it's one of my absolute favourite dishes, but when I was young I hated it. The reason? The Finnish public school system. Now don't get me wrong, the school system in Finland is fantastic (as you know) and the food is for the most part really really good (it's free after all), but there were a few exceptions -- and one of them was the "risotto". It took me almost twenty years of living on this planet before I learned that risotto is not dry rice with fried minced-meat, corn, peas, and weird small slices of red pepper. Because that's what was served to us when it said risotto on the menu.
The first time I ate a real risotto (the creamy, oozy, hearty, rich and chock-full of goodness kind) I was blown away. I knew then and there that my life would never be the same again, my existence was now divided into pre-risotto and post-risotto -- P.R. and P...R. Shit, that doesn't work. Just imagine a big line dividing my life.
It was a life-altering taste explosion. The richness of the risotto, and the creaminess of it, and the incredible goodness of it, and the...sorry. I'll stop beating this...velvety, buttery, smooth...dead horse.
Back to the recipe -- no, sorry, one more thing! The thing that really blew my mind about risotto is how simple, nay, elegant, it is to make. It is so simple that I feel everyone should be taught how to make a risotto in grade school (I bet they do that in Italy!). It's also surprisingly fun.
And the thing with making a risotto is that it's a skill, it's easy to make, but almost deceptively easy, since the steps are really easy to learn and making a decent-to-good risotto is easy, but then taking the step up and making a brilliant risotto...now that's hard.
But who doesn't like a challenge? I've just started on my risotto learning-curve so we can learn together, and don't worry, if I ever make that perfect risotto you'll know about it, I'll shout it from the rooftops and maybe take a few months off work.
But yes, back to the recipe. This is a simple recipe for my favourite kind of risotto: mushroom risotto. We were at a friends cabin a few weeks ago and found -- excuse my french -- a shit-ton of mushrooms in the forest, mostly chanterelles, and decided to make the best of them and turn them into a risotto. Since we had such a huge amount of mushrooms we decided to go all in and use an entire 1kg package of risotto that we had with us. So feel free to halve or quarter our recipe for use with normal human beings.
So there. The basics of risotto. It's a dish best experimented with, and a real learning-by-doing type dish. So have fun, and don't worry! It's not nearly as complicated as it sounds and is a very fun dish to cook (and easy to impress others with).
1 kg arborio rice (risotto rice)
5 liters of fresh mushrooms
(don't worry about the amount, just use as much as you have and add enough rice to make a rice-to-mushroom ratio of 4:1)
2 medium sized onions
1 glass of white wine
(and an extra glass for you)
2l vegetable broth
(we tried our hand at boiling our own vegetable-mushroom broth, but you can use a store-bought kind if you want)
sage and lingonberries for garnish
Start by chopping up the onions and 3/4 of the mushrooms. If the mushrooms are freshly picked, fry them first in order to steam the excess water
If not you can fry the onions first, and then add the mushrooms. When they're done set them aside for a while.
Prepare everything you need around your saucepan. You need the broth (make sure the broth is warm but not boiling), some butter and the risotto rice
(If you decide to make your own broth, boil it ahead of time, preferably the night before so the flavors have time to infuse properly. We boiled onions, carrots, a big handful of chanterelles, a dash of white port wine and a bush of sage and thyme for two hours on a low simmer; and then poured everything through a sieve to only have the broth left)
Okay, time to start with the risotto. Fry the risotto rice with a big spoonful of butter for a few minutes until it becomes slightly see-through.
Add the wine to the rice and let it boil away.
Then start adding the broth a little at a time. Barely cover the rice and wait until the broth is boiled into the rice.
Then add more broth.
Repeat until the rice is cooked.
Remember to constantly stir upp the rice from the bottom of the pan so it doesn't stick. Stir it up, say, every 5-10 seconds, while waiting for the broth to cook in
It will take about 20 minutes for the rice to be done, and you need to keep stirring it the whole time. The risotto should be runny, not sticky, and definitely not porridge-y. Add more broth if it's too sticky.
When the rice is cooked, add a big dollop of butter and most of the parmesan and mix it into the rice.
Take it off the heat and let it sit for a minute.
Fry the rest of the mushrooms and garnish with them and some lingonberries and sage leaves.
Enjoy with a glass of dry Riesling.