Mushrooms – here dried funghi porcini and large flat cultivated ones – are sweated with onions and butter as a flavour basis for the rice. The stock is enriched with the dried funghi porcini soaking water, white wine, and the stems and peelings from the flats. A little of the dried funghi porcini go a long way to flavouring this wonderful dish. I first ate this at Adam Robinson’s Brackenbury restaurant: trust Adam to get all that mushroom flavour into the dish for relatively little outlay – constructive cheating!
It is essential you make the stock but you can leave the chicken stock cubes out if those picky vegetarians are coming again. Other sorts of mushrooms, magic etc., can be substituted, girolles spring to mind.
Peel the mushrooms and de-stalk them, reserving the peelings and stalks for the stock. Slice the caps of the mushrooms finely.
To make the stock, do not peel the vegetables. Put them into the processor and chop. Place in a large pan with the mushroom stalks and peelings, wine and stock cubes, add the bay leaf and cover with 4 litres water. Boil vigorously for 1 hour. Sieve and discard the vegetables and return the liquid to the boil until it is reduced by half. Cool and refrigerate, if not using immediately.
To make the risotto, bring the reduced stock to a simmer. Melt half the butter over a medium heat and add the minced onion. Sauté or sweat for 5 minutes, but do not allow to burn. Add the sliced caps of the mushrooms and continue sweating until they collapse and render liquid.
At this point drain the funghi porcini with a slotted spoon or your hand. Do not disturb the remnants of the forest floor sitting sediment-like in the bowl, and do not throw the liquor away. Add the funghi porcini to the mushroom and onion mix, then stir and add the rice. Continue sweating together for a further 5 minutes. While this is happening, carefully sieve the funghi porcini soaking juices through a tea strainer and add to the stock.
Now you can proceed as for the other risotti by adding stock as needed, and only adding a further ladle when the previous lot is completely absorbed. When the rice is done add the remaining butter and the Parmesan, stir and cover. Leave to rest for 3 minutes and then serve immediately, with more Parmesan offered separately.
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.