Risotto with wild mushrooms and saffron

I had a beautiful mushroom risotto in Southwold before Christmas. It was nutty, delicately flavoured and the rice had a bite to it. It also wasn’t creamy, which I liked as I find the rice heavy enough as it is and the creamy variety tend to sit like cement to my stomach. I wanted to make something similar and came up with this.

If you make too much the next day turn the rest in to arancini by rolling the leftover rice in to a ball about the size of a plum, poking a hole in to the centre and filling it with mozzarella or other soft cheese. Then roll in flour, a beaten egg, fresh breadcrumbs and deep fry. Heat the oil on a medium temperature for 10 minutes, then throw a few breadcrumbs in to the oil and when they sizzle add the balls of arancini and cook until golden.

Serves 4/6

250g Arborio risotto rice
150g wild mushrooms
15g porcini mushrooms
200g portobello or chestnut mushrooms thinly sliced
Fresh vegetable stock 1 litre
1 glass of drywhite wine
4 shallots finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp saffron threads
40g butter
2 tablespoons of tarragon finely chopped
2 tablespoons of parsley roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of sage leaves chopped
Handful of toasted pumpkin seeds
Salt and pepper

First make a quick vegetable stock. Onion, garlic, peppercorns, pinch of salt, bay leaf, carrot, celery, stalks (from the herbs above) potato any vegetables you have available really. Pour in 2 litres of water and simmer for 30 minutes or as long as you can. Strain it and keep it cooking on a low heat throughout making the risotto. Make sure you had 1.5 litres of liquid in the pan.

Soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Squeeze the water from the porcini mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Tip it into the vegetable stock.

Wrap the saffron in a tinfoil parcel and toast very gently in a pan for a minute or so each side to release the flavour. Watch it closely as it burns quickly. Infuse the saffron threads in 1 tbsp of boiling water

Heat approximately 25g butter in a high sided saucepan ( low heat) add the garlic and continue to heat gently for 5 minutes moving the garlic. Add the shallots and continue to cook until translucent but not coloured. Add the sage and then the portobello or chestnut mushrooms and the porcini and keep stirring. When the mushrooms have softened and reduced in size,add the rice coating it in the butter, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add a teaspoon of salt and a small glass of white wine and the saffron. Keep stirring. Once the liquid has almost all absorbed slowly start to add the stock one ladle at a time. Once the liquid has almost all absorbed add another ladle of stock and continue this process. I find it quite meditative. I would say this took approximately 30 minutes and I used just over a litre of stock. When it is done stir through 10 g of butter and salt to taste.

Once almost done, heat a nob of butter in a pan and cook the wild mushrooms for no more than 2 minutes. Do not stir them. Add them to bubbiling butter and then once browned turn them.

Remove from the heat. Stir through the parsley and tarragon.

To serve, spoon a ladle full of the risotto on to the plate, top with the wild mushrooms, black pepper, pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

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