Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mushroom risotto

Mushrooms definitely rank quite highly on my personal vegetable hit parade (which is in a state of constant flux because even when I was picky, I always liked vegetables, and my tastes tend to vary according to the season). This caveat notwithstanding, I have always liked mushrooms a lot, even those rubbery button ones, but particularly the more exciting varieties. Unfortunately Simon, who isn't picky except when it comes to mushrooms and some forms of seafood, doesn't share my penchant for funghi - he will eat mushrooms in other dishes as long as they aren't the star ingredient, but mushroom pasta or mushroom risotto would definitely be off the cards. I knew, then, that I would have to make mushroom risotto on a night when I was home alone, which happened yesterday.

This project has changed how I see risotto. I used until recently to forget about risotto because it seemed like too much effort. Now I see that the labour it requires is effortless: you stir repeatedly, so you can't possibly be required to do anything else, which means that your mind is free to wander. I have discovered that cooking offers a privileged space and time for day-dreaming, and risotto is a perfect example of this. Yesterday I made enough of Jamie's cunning risotto base recipe for three, chilled it in the porch (well away of any potential passing feet, this time) and then extracted a third, which became the basis for Jamie's mushroom risotto recipe.

Mushroom risotto is one of the classic risottos; it needs little preamble from Jamie, let alone from me. Jamie does suggest finding the best mix of mushrooms possible - in my case, I doubt the best I could find was good enough. My search covered the huge local Tesco, M and S, a deli in town and the farm shop, and the best I could find was a mix of oyster and chestnut mushrooms, boosted by dried porcini (hurrah for dried porcini!). My mushrooms were hardly the fresh chanterelles and porcini that Jamie hints at, and thus my risotto could only ever be good, never great. I won't go through the recipe because everyone knows how to make mushroom risotto; added to the mushrooms and basic risotto base here were chopped garlic, thyme, and lemon juice, which all cut through the creaminess of the risotto and gave it added flavour.

The risotto was nice. It wasn't as good as it could have been, had I had a more interesting range of mushrooms, but it was nice. Risotto is a good meal to eat on your own because it is hardly any effort to eat it; it is like baby food, because it comes in a deep bowl and oozes into your mouth. Next time, I am going to scavenge for more exciting mushrooms - but I think I've missed my seasonal window.


Anonymous said...

Hhhhmmmm, mushroom risotto! Love it! I wanted to make some the other day and 1)I had no risotto rice left and more scaringly 2) my oyster mushrooms (bought the day before) had grown extra fungi...yuk! I was left with a pastosotto made with some porcini stock cube, LOL!

Ilana said...

This looks fantastic, Kathryn. :)) I'm quite impressed you made three batches of risotto base. Wow!!!