Fearless Risotto...a new alliance

                                                        Mushroom Risotto
Risotto.....it’s kind of like spiders (small ones) people seem to have an irrational fear of risotto….granted it needs some attention but no more than most culinary ventures….and the result is a warm bowl of comforting, moist, starchy goodness and when you’ve cooked it once and you’ve lost the fear…you can adapt the recipe, using almost anything that takes your fancy. In fact there is a running competition in my family to find the best, most unusual additions.
The first time I had risotto was with an Italian couple …adapting to what was on offer in Ireland, it was comprised of nettles, from Glendalough of all places…..some of you may shudder, but my lord it tasted like manna from heaven…..there are a few different types of risotto rice, but my reliable Italian sources have advised the use of Carnaroli...and well, they know best!! Tonight luckily for me my mum had a batch of fresh chicken stock and a packet of lovely wild mushrooms...which I left in large-ish chunks for a really meaty texture :-)

Allora…..let’s begin
  • finely chop a small onion and 2 cloves of garlic fry on a low heat in a good glug of olive oil and knob of butter for 3/4 mins
  • add 330g risotto rice  carnaroli or arborio (to serve 4) coat the rice in the oil and stir for 2/3 mins
  • in another pot on a low heat you should have your stock -veg or chicken around 1 litre
  • start adding a few ladle fulls of stock into the rice & stir, the rice will absorb the stock
  • add a glass of white wine
  • keep adding the stock as required, you shouldn't have to stir continuously just cover the rice each time you add it & give a good stir...keep an eye so that its doesn't dry out and stick
  • add chunkily chopped wild mushrooms- oyster, shitake...whatever you fancy & herbs fresh or dried thyme, rosemary...
  • the rice should be slightly al dente at the finish & have a porridge like consistency
  • grate a load of Parmesan cheese, adding most at the end and keeping some to garnish
  • take a half lemon squeeze into the risotto, season with salt & pepper  
  • garnish with toasted pine nuts & chopped parsley
Now pour yourself a nice glass of vino and I bet you'll be going back to the pot for seconds!

It doesn't photograph well...but don't judge a book by its cover!!!

Some other good combinations are:
  • pea, prawn & lemon
  • nettle & crispy pancetta
  • beetroot topped with grilled white fish
  • Gorgonzola, apple & walnut
......don't be afraid to try adding the things you most enjoy...buon appetito!

                                      FOR THE LOVE OF VALENTINES DAY....!!

For the day that was in it I decided upon a pink/red/rouge/rossa colour theme and so an obvious choice for the main course was a  beetroot risotto...a quick jaunt to my local Fruit & Veg shop and I was in posession of a lovely bunch of fresh beetroot. To cook, I simply chopped the leaves off the washed beetroots, being careful not to go too close to the beet and then placed them into a saucepan of boiling water...they simmered away merrily for about 30 mins. The main point to note when cooking fresh beetroots is not to pierce the skin...if you do most of the deep red/purple colour will escape! When they are cooked allow to cool and peel off the skin...use a knife and fork if you dont want pink fingers! I then made a risotto as above and used the beetroot water to which I'd added stock to cook the rice.....As we were drinking 'coghlinis' (a cocktail of presecco with raspberry coulis) I put a glass of presecco into the risotto...this is fine as prosecco is just wine with bubbles! I then chopped the beetroot up and added towards the end of the cooking process. As with most things cooked from fresh, the beetroot was far superior in flavour to pre-packed beets, but if you can't lay your hands on fresh you could I suppose use the pre-packed...BUT there is no way you could use the jar variety as they are pickled in vinegar.