Surrounded by a snow-clad landscape, in between “The day after tomorrow” – until next July – and a urban Santa Claus village, my kitchen and pantry become loyal allies throughout the days ahead of plumb grey skies and some shy sunrays, when the streets are turned into a natural, en-plein-air refrigerator.
Although gas cookers are not as common as in Italy, the electric alternative turns out to be just as fine once you have learnt how to use it.
For a delicious meal, particularly during the wintertime, risotti are some of my favourite dishes to cook and to eat. Today we are going to prepare the risotto ai funghi.
Risotto ai funghi
** Serves 4 **
Mushrooms 300 gr
Rice* 4 + 1 coffee cups** [1 for each person + 1 for the pan, as my grandmother says]
Garlic 1 – 2 cloves
Olive oil quanto basta
Butter 60 gr
*What kind of rice, you may ask? I usually buy and use arborio, the most common of risotto rice and readily available at most supermarkets or convenient stores in Toronto.
** Espresso Coffee Cups. One espresso coffee cup is around 65 gr.
** Preparation **
To properly cook any kind of risotto we need some stock.
• How to make a quick stock
Homemade stocks can be laborious or, at least, time-consuming. But this is a great way to make some easy, ready-to-use stock.
Chop the carrots, the shallot and a tuft of parsley.
Place everything in a pan, add cold water and salt, heat to a gentle simmer and stir. You can keep adding water as you need it.
• Preparing the mushrooms
Chop a small clove of garlic, half an onion and slice the mushrooms, if you did not buy them sliced. Mix them in a pan, add some water, parsley, olive oil and salt (and pepper, if you wish). Gently heat to simmer until the mushrooms turn golden-brown. At the very end, you may add half a teaspoon of butter.
Place the rice in a pan, gently heat, add the mushrooms and some stock. Cook the rice to perfection (al dente or slighlty softer, as you prefer) in the pan while you keep adding the stock.
As you know, we eat with the mouth but we enjoy with all the five senses. Hence pay an extra attention to the presentation of the dish. You can easily garnish it with some parsley. Oh, of course, a nice bone china plate helps too!
• The secret
I usually add some dried porcini to my risotto. Dried mushrooms are more flavourful and give your dish the perfect twist. You just have to be careful about their preparation.
• How I prepare and use dried mushrooms
We should bear in mind some tricks when using dried mushrooms: remember to soak them in water (cold, warm or room temperature doesn’t matter) for at least 30 minutes and rinse them thouroghly before adding them into the pan. This will help get rid of the grit, as one of the downsides of dried mushrooms is the grit, and we don’t want to ruin the whole dish!
The risotto is delicious even the day after: you can reheat it in the microwave or in a pan with a walnut of butter and some water.
• ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ •