Mushroom Risotto with My (Not So) Secret Ingredient

As I mentioned in my last post, I have recently got back from Genoa, my Italian hometown. I brought back over 10 kg worth of extra luggage and no, it wasn’t all clothes and shoes, thank you very much. I also took to Blighty a few kitchen utensils from my Granny’s kitchen and a whole load of food and wine: a bottle of Barolo, one of Bonarda, one of Prosecco, a huge bottle of excellent extra virgin olive oil, a big Pandoro for the joy of my colleagues, a small pandoro, a Pandolce Genovese (a typical Genoese Christmas cake), some chocolate, gnocchetti al basilico (basil baby gnocchi) and . . . my secret ingredient, STAR porcini mushroom stock cubes. As one would expect, the wine and prosecco bottles are long gone already, and so are the two pandori and the chocolate. The basil gnocchi have also been cooked and will be thoroughly featured in another post. The star of today’s post, however, is the mushroom stock:

I love the fact that this famous Italian brand hasn’t practically changed their logo and box design since pretty much the ‘50s, but most of all I love the flavour these cubes give!

I couldn’t wait, I had to pick a packet of mushrooms on my way home and cook some risotto right after my flight. Who needs unpacking when you have il dado ai funghi porcini?

Here is my very personal recipe (well, the one my mum taught me years ago with the helping of the special stock) for two portions.

The pictures were taken by me but edited by my two favourite picture experts, Rol and Sara.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 180 gr Arborio (risotto) rice
  • A medium glass of dry white wine
  • 150 gr of fresh mixed (or, if you find them, porcini) mushrooms or 75 gr of dried ones
  • 1 and ½ porcini mushroom stock cubes to be dissolved in 750 ml of water
  • ½ tbs of butter
  • 4 tsps grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Preparation:

First of all, if you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in lukewarm water for at least half an hour, drain them and set them aside. Chop the garlic and onion finely. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan and add the chopped aromatics. Cook them until they’re soft and golden. In the meantime prepare the stock and keep it simmering very gently on one side. Add the rice into the frying pan and stir it thoroughly into the onions and garlic, letting it ‘toast’ for a minute or two in order to sear (coat) it. Turn the heat right up and pour in the wine. The heat needs to be very high at this stage because you want the alcohol to evaporate fairly quickly, as you don’t want to boil the rice into it. Once the rice starts drying off, turn the flame back down to medium heat. It’s now time to add in the mushrooms and a ladleful of stock. Keep stirring the rice; make sure you do not leave it unattended as it takes a split second for the whole content to go super dry and burn. Keep adding the stock gradually until the rice is completely cooked, which shouldn’t take any longer than 20 minutes. Now taste the risotto and see if it lacks any salt. It really shouldn’t as the stock should be sufficient for flavour – although better safe than sorry! Once ready, add the butter and a couple of teaspoons of grated cheese (remember, you are cooking Italian food so please, refrain from adding cheddar . . . you know who you are!), stir to allow all the ingredients to hobnob and the butter and cheese to melt and finally plate the dish. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, some extra Parmigiano if you so wish and garnish with fresh or dried flat-leaf parsley or coriander.

You’re going to love this!

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My Very First Thanksgiving

Being an Italian living in London, I never really had a chance or official reason to celebrate Thanksgiving. I never quite knew what it involved, exactly. This year, however, thanks to my change of jobs in May, I had the luck to meet a new friend, Sara, who is from Ohio and super keen on anything Thanksgiving-related. I had no more excuses! So on Saturday 26 November I went to her house in the morning and we cooked all day long to put together an American feast for six.  We scoured through the internet to find the best Thanksgiving recipes and I think we definitely found some brilliant ones. All the pictures were taken by Sara.

Here is the menu we had on the day, click on the dish name to find the recipe:

I absolutely loved Thanksgiving and really hope we will repeat it next year.