Rice was brought to the Mediterranean by Arabs in the Middle Ages. In their trading expeditions they took with them many varieties. Ultimately it was the shorter-grained types, such as Arborio and Carnaroli, that suited the warm Italian climate.
The Milanese people truly made the most of the new staple by combining it with onions, garlic, wine and stock. A true Milanese risotto will always feature Saffron as a base ingredient. As tradition goes a group of Belgian glassmakers, who used saffron to stain the glass for the Duomo, decided to try adding it to their risotto.
Currently there exists a multitude of recipes for risotto. Simply cook the base and then add to it roasted veggies, blanched asparagus, barbecued chicken and even seafood. Antonio Carluccio says that his favourite risotto additions are porcini mushroom, truffle and squid ink. So in his honour I have prepared a version of a mushroom risotto featuring portobello mushrooms and baby spinach. A drizzle of Olive oil and a knob of butter seals the deal and creates the dish that is well-known and enjoyed by many.
2 tbspns butter
2 tbspns olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 handfulls Arborio or Carnaroli rice (risotto rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1 litre chicken stock
4 large portobello mushrooms (or use a mix of mushrooms such as Swiss, Chanterelle, Oyster etc), sliced
150g packet of baby spinach leaves
Grated parmesan cheese
You will need:
Medium stainless-steel pot
Large frying pan
Small Frying Pan
Place the stock into the medium pot and place over a medium flame. The stock should simmer gently in this pan.
Heat one tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil in the frying pan over a low flame. The oil prevents the butter from burning as you heat it. Add the chopped garlic, onion and the rice and stir constantly for five minutes. You want to make sure that all the grains are coated in the golden butter. By this stage the rice will have become translucent and the onion soft.
Add the wine in one go and allow it to bubble for 5 minutes. The wine should reduce down quite a bit and will be absorbed by the rice. This step intensifies the flavour of the finished risotto giving it acidity and sharpness to cut through the richness of the dish. Hence it is important that you use a wine that you would like to drink as well as cook with. The flavours add up in the end.
Once the rice has absorbed the wine you can begin to add the stock. Ladle in 2 spoonfuls making sure to stir continuously. When the stock has been absorbed repeat the pouring and stirring process till the rice has absorbed all the stock and is al dente. This should take about 10 minutes (or even 15). Add the sautéed mushrooms (see below) and spinach. Stir through the parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
While the rice is cooking you can make these mushrooms. Heat the remaining oil and butter in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot throw in the sliced mushrooms and cook till golden. This usually takes about 5 or 10 minutes. Stir through the risotto at the end of the cooking process.
Do you have any recipes for risotto? Post them up on my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brendon-The-Smiling-Chef/139406166229322
Keep Smiling and Happy Cooking,
Brendon The Smiling Chef 🙂