Rice and shine : MUSHROOM AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO RISOTTO

I think this recipe has officially been my crowning glory, if I may say so myself! I’m not sure if this is the perfect risotto in Gordon’s Ramsay’s books, but it tasted pretty damn good and that’s all I care about really. So don’t be intimidated; the main things that really matter are texture and timing, and this recipe is pretty forgiving in both departments.

The traditional Italian risotto doesn’t leave ‘mush’ room for flavour, so I had to throw in the sun-dried tomatoes (and the pun) to spice things up a little bit. They undoubtedly brightened up the flavour, cut through the blandness(?) of the mushrooms, and proved to be a perfect match made in food heaven. This is a recipe that you would definitely want to experiment with, and by all means do! (I tried a wacky combination of leftover bulgogi and mushroom risotto and it was amazing!)

Although the addition of the Cheddar might offend those purist risotto aficionados, Nigella would have to bear the brunt of it for starting us off on that trend. Never tried this recipe with the traditional Parmesan but be my guest, and I’d love to know how it turns out!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped

6 sun-dried tomatoes

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine

1 medium onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

5-6 cups chicken stock

1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

125 grams of aged yellow cheddar (not a typo)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in 1/4 cup of hot water with a dash of balsamic vinegar and set aside;
Roughly chop them once they soften.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes along with the water that it has been soaking in into the stock; bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onions until they turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the chilli flakes and mushrooms and sauté for a further 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms soften; put in the rice and combine until each grain is opaque and well-coated.

Pour in the wine and let the alcohol cook away until it’s almost all evaporated and absorbed by the rice.

Add the simmering stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly to keep the rice from sticking to the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. It should take about 25-30 minutes by which time the rice will have absorbed all of the lovely stock and more than doubled in quantity (it should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy)

Stir in the cheese, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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