Having travelled and cooked my way around Italy over the past 20 years, I’ve come to realise that autumn and winter are my favourite times of year. The local markets are full of incredible produce and in Italy you can only really get seasonal ingredients whereas in the UK everything is available at all times of year. I would encourage anyone to eat as seasonally as possible as the seasonality elevates the quality, taste and freshness. Fresh porcini are no exception. They are not as easy to source in the UK but the dried variety are a great substitute and the water used to rehydrate them makes a delicious stock. I love this recipe because it is a real crowd pleaser and easily adaptable for vegans. Cooked correctly, risotto is one of the most delicious, satisfying and economical dishes for a quick midweek dinner, or even a dinner party for friends.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
25g dried porcini mushrooms
150g chestnut or field mushrooms, roughly chopped
150g oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
200g arborio rice
250ml white wine
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
Small bunch of parsley, leaves only and finely chopped
100g grated parmesan cheese
Truffle oil (optional)
Soak the mushrooms in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. You need just enough water to cover the mushrooms.
Roughly chop the chestnut and oyster mushrooms so they are 1-2cm cubed, or however chunky you prefer them. Fry in 1 tbsp olive oil and a knob of butter until golden brown. Set to one side until you’re ready to add them to the risotto.
Fry the finely chopped onion in 3 tbsp of olive oil for about 5 minutes on a medium heat until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
Add the rice and mix until nicely coated with the oil, onions and garlic. Add the wine, turn the heat up and stir continuously. Cook until fully absorbed and turn the heat back down to medium. Add the porcini water and stir again until fully absorbed.
Add enough stock to just cover the rice, stir and repeat the process for about 10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook with the rice for5 minutes – it should have absorbed the majority of the liquid but not be completely dry. You have the option to add a bit more stock – the most important thing is that the rice still has a bit of a bite but isn’t too crunchy.
Add a knob of butter, 75g of Parmesan, and the parsley. Stir together and check the consistency. It should be wet but not sitting in liquid. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before serving.
Serve in shallow bowls or plates.For those who like it extra cheesy, sprinkle the remainder of the Parmesan on top. For something extra special drizzle over some truffle oil.
Vegans can easily substitute the butter for oil (although there is no need to add extra oil at the end of the recipe) and you can leave the cheese out too.
Alice Staple is an executive chef, who is currently setting up her debut restaurant in Brixton, south London, alongside Dickie, a Brixton resident who runs the London Cooking Project.