Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan Crisp (Risotto ai Funghi)
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish whose popularity is not confined to Italy only. This hearty dish has taken the world by storm and today it is a staple in restaurants and home kitchens alike.
The ease of preparation and the versatility of risotto recipes are the two key qualities that make risotto a must in every cook’s repertoire. Authentic Italian-style risotto cooked the slow and painful way, but oh so worth it. Risotto rice does not have a flavour of its own, so the stock plays an important role while making a good risotto. The stock must be flavourful, and the acid balance is also important hence I always use a dash of white wine.
The best risotto I had was in Milan, in a restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. While we were in Milan, we had at least one of our daily meals at this restaurant and always devoured a different variety of Risotto. Their Milanese and Fungi risotto were the best I have ever eaten! That is when I fell in love with Risotto! Risotto cooking is not for everyone as it needs bundles of love, patience, and vigour.
Risotto has a reputation for being one of the harder-to-master Italian dishes. Overcook the rice, you quickly ruin it. Over stir, and you lose the creamy, rich texture risotto is renowned for. It is hard enough to cook rice, let alone perfect a one-pot wonder like risotto where just the right amount of creaminess is key to getting the rice to melt in your mouth like butter instead of melding into an oatmeal mush. I have had my share of failures but now I have a fool proof recipe for creamy luscious risotto. I would highly recommend reading the ‘Tips and Variations’ section if you are a risotto novice.
Mushroom risotto is creamy, and the mushroom lends a delicious umami flavour. This dish is completely and utterly mouth-wateringly delicious! I prefer using 2 variety of mushrooms – depending on whatever is available, however one variety works great too. I always find it is such a let-down whenever I order mushroom risotto in restaurants and I have to fish around desperately through piles of gluey rice to find a few piddly bits of mushrooms. Let me assure you there is no fishing expedition required with this Mushroom Risotto recipe!
1 cup risotto rice (250gm)
6 cups vegetable stock
500 grams sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
1-2 finely chopped garlic clove
½ cup white wine
Salt to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)
1-2 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional- for serving)
For Parmesan Crisp
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon pepper/Italian herbs (optional)
For Parmesan Crisp
Preheat the oven at 180C/fan160C/gas 4.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw approximately 2-3-inch diameter circles 2 inches apart. Spoon 1-1½ teaspoon grated parmesan cheese on prepared circles and spread slightly. Sprinkle the cheese mounds with Italian herbs/pepper(optional). Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Keep an eye on them while baking as the crisps start to brown when they stop bubbling, so watch them carefully. Cool completely on baking sheet.
Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and cook the mushrooms for 4-5 minutes until soft over medium-high heat. Remove mushrooms and their liquid and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions for 3-4 minute on low heat. You do not want them to crisp up or become overly dark in colour, just soft and translucent.
Add the rice and stir to roast and coat the rice with oil for around 2 minutes.
When the rice has taken on a pale, golden colour, pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.
In a separate pan warm up the vegetable stock over medium heat. Keep the stock warm during the whole risotto making process.
Add ½ cup vegetable stock to the rice and stir until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup stock at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is al dente. Keep the heat moderate, so that it bubbles in a lively but not aggressive way. It should take around 18 – 20 minutes for rice to cook through.
Stir in the cooked mushrooms with its liquid, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Gently lift the cooled parmesan cracker.
Serve the mushroom risotto with some grated parmesan and parmesan cracker.