This is a shove-in-the-oven risotto, probably sacrilege, but it tastes great and doesn't involve the constant attention at the stove. If you can't get your hands on fresh mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms softened in boiling water will give you the meaty boost you might be looking for. I've made the mushroom component an add-on – leftover risotto can stretch far and wide. This way you aren't limited for the delights of arancini or cold risotto straight from the fridge.
small knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup risotto rice (ie. arborio or carnaroli)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
knob of butter
sea salt flakes
1 cup swiss brown mushrooms
1-2 large field mushrooms
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
½ cup shaved parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 175C.
2. Place a medium-sized oven-proof saucepan over medium heat. Add the knob of butter, and once sizzling, add the olive oil and red onion. Turn the heat to low and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains. Pour over the stock and wine and place in the oven.
3. Cook for about 20 minutes. About halfway through the cooking time, place a frypan over medium heat. Add the butter and a generous pinch of salt, then when the butter is sizzling, add the mushrooms and reduce the heat to low. Cook for the remaining time the risotto is in the oven, or until the mushrooms have cooked through.
4. Peer in and give the risotto a stir at about the 15-minute mark – no one wants scolded risotto on the base of their pan. This risotto can take anywhere between 18 and 25 minutes. It's ready when the grains still have a slight bite (see recipe introduction). If you are concerned the risotto is drying out too quickly, slowly add extra stock, about a tablespoon at a time, and stir the rice between additions.
5. Scoop risotto into a serving dish and season with the lemon zest, juice and parmesan (see tip). Top with the mushrooms and season once more with any salt, if you feel it needs it. Serve piping hot.
Tip: At French culinary school, the hotplates were mostly led for me by an Italian chef, which is probably a good thing. While I love the meticulous and fastidious discipline of the French in the kitchen, it's the robustness of Italian cooking that has my heart. And this chef was fanatical about a good risotto. And if there are a few things I learnt and can since impart, it is this: cook until the grains have a slight bite and are still separated; and most importantly, your seasoning should actually be lemon juice, parmesan and then the salt.