Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stresa Travel Recipes: Mushroom Risotto

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I posted but on Thursday I was handed the perfect excuse to get back at it: freshly picked mushrooms from the slopes of Mottarone :)

Andrea drives for the local bus company that we use for all our bus services so you may well have met him on an airport transfer or one of our excursions. From his Facebook photos he is also a bit of a foodie at heart! I had had to turn down a previous offer of mushrooms as I wouldn't have had the time to give them the care and attention they need, but Andrea had promised to bring me some the next time he went out picking.

A wonderful gift!
True to his word I got a call on Thursday and he arrived at the office with some beautiful mushrooms for me. I love mushrooms. Anyone that knows me knows that I always, yes always, have porcini on my pizza. But these were something else! A wonderful earthy smell, freshly picked and in wonderful condition.

In my lunch hour I set about cleaning them up and getting them ready for the evening. I rested them on kitchen paper and used an old toothbrush and more kitchen paper to get the dirt off them without any damage. I trimmed the woody ends with a tourne knife.

All cleaned up and ready for the pot
So what to do with them? For me it had to be risotto and here's how I made it:

First of all I got all my ingredients ready: sliced mushrooms, a little diced onion, simmering chicken stock, carnaroli rice, olive oil, butter, parmesan or grana cheese, salt and pepper.

My mountain of sliced mushrooms
Put some olive oil and a knob of butter in a large, deep, heavy bottomed, non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion (and some garlic if you wish). Add the rice and toast it gently for a couple of minutes (you may wish to add a splash of white wine at this point). Add the sliced mushrooms and mix.

Now it's time to start adding the stock, which you should keep simmering, one ladle at a time. Wait until the stock is absorbed, add the next ladle and keep the risotto moving!

Adding the stock a ladle at a time
Once the rice is almost cooked - translucent but with a little white bit in the centre - stir in some grated parmesan or grana cheese. 

Grana cheese
You will need to add a little more stock to loosen the risotto and just finish off the cooking of the rice. Season to taste and serve with more parmesan or grana cheese.

The finished product!
I have to say that risotto made with fresh mushrooms like this is something special. I normally have dried porcini and the standard white mushrooms from the supermarket to work with and even though they make a grand risotto, this was a touch above!

More mushroom info:

I recently came across an article in Italy Magazine which is about a local "fungaiolo" from the nearby town of Oleggio. You can also find recipes and all things mushroom on the Mushroom Council website. When I don't have mushrooms like these to work with I use the risotto recipe from the first River Cafe Cookbook which I found online here.

And finally:

I happily accepted these mushrooms from Andrea as I know and trust him. Never go mushroom picking without an expert or accept mushrooms from someone who doesn't know what they're doing! 

Buon appetito!

Sarah, Viaggi Tomassucci

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