One of the difficulties in replicating my cooking is that the measurements I use are an inaccurate science. As a British girl used to counting calories and alcohol units in grams and millilitres and following her mother’s recipes in ounces and pints, some of my measurements are metric, some are imperial, and some are a mix of experience and pure guesswork.
My best recipes come out of this, and amongst them is my mushroom risotto. After an initial shameless crib from the side of a Waitrose tub of dried wild mushrooms, it has developed as I have added bits to it and discovered my own balance.
The kirsch really brings out the flavours in the recipe. If made with vegetable stock, this recipe is vegetarian. But keep the parmesan.
Bird’s Wild Mushroom Risotto
75g risotto rice (carnaroli is best)
3 small shallots or half a medium onion
600ml of chicken or vegetable stock
half a cup of white wine
a good knob of butter/a tbsp olive oil
a handful of dried wild mushrooms
two handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
a shot of kirsch
25g grated fresh parmesan
salt & pepper
Throughout this recipe, keep an eye on what the pan’s doing, and if in doubt, stir.
Chop the onions/shallots very finely. Then, if you’re not using fresh stock (god knows I don’t) make up your pint of stock now. My favourite is Marigold’s Swiss Vegetable Bouillon (http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk/cgi-local/frameset/detail/579545_Marigold_Swiss_Vegetable_Bouillon_Powder__1kg.html) (which also makes an amazing consommé type base for Alpine soups). You probably won’t need all of it but it’s always better to have more stock than needed.
Warm a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Put in the butter or oil and leave to heat up. Add the onion/shallots and soften. Add the rice, stir for a minute and a half or so. Add the first 150ml of stock, stir hard, and turn down the heat. Put in the mushrooms. As the mix dries out, add more stock, bit by bit.
The whole cooking process should take about twenty minutes from when the first stock goes in. At ten minutes, add the wine, at fifteen, the kirsch, and at eighteen, the spinach and most of the parmesan, leaving a little to sprinkle over the top. Keep stirring and serve when mostly dried out. Use salt and pepper to your taste.
Picture credit – ocado.com