Sunday, 2 December 2012

Riding the Waves

Risotto con Funghi & Salvia
Risotto with King Oyster Mushroom & Sage

On a cold, snowy evening in Frankfurt, Germany, what could be a better thing to fix than a warming risotto, comforting in that "Old Country" kinda way? Risotto is THE Italian comfort food- irresistible and delicious, whichever recipe or ingredient, it always will be a favorite wherever you go!

I used these beautiful King-Oyster mushrooms, together with dried Porcini's for the broth, to make this lovely meal. I used Vialone Nano rice, white wine and olive oil, and stirred, stirred, stirred my way from the stovetop to the dinner table- and this is what I did along the way!

To make this, I started off by boiling a half of a Porcini mushroom stock cube to make the  broth. I have the good fortune of being able to bring these back from Italy- although I am aware that they are not available everywhere. Otherwise, you can use a handful of dried Porcini's to make enough broth for one small saucepan and 2-3 portions of risotto.

Next, I made a "sofritto" of finely chopped carrot, celery and onion and started it sizzling in a little olive oil. I added crushed garlic, a little finely chopped bacon, finely chopped parsley and the rice, making sure it got well coated. After 1-2 minutes, I deglazed the saucepan with a little white wine and allowed this to sizzle and evaporate away. And then I began to add the broth- one ladle at a time, stirring it in, letting it reduce down and constantly stirring- you know the score!

Whilst the risotto gently sizzled away, I prepared the topping for the risotto, which was very finely diced oyster mushroom and a finely shredded, large sage leaf. I began with the mushroom, which began to dry out, toast up and actually jump about! And then I added the sage and a small amount of olive oil- seriously just a couple of drops! The secret is letting the mushrooms dry out first before adding the oil- if you do it whilst the mushroom is moist, it will just get more moist and remain soggy. This way, it crisps-up the dehydrated mushroom even more and the result is crispy and very intense flavored... and pretty wonderful to say the least!

And of course, all the time I was stirring away at my risotto, making sure it was well "manticato", meaning that the edges of the rice corns had rubbed against each other from the stirring and released the natural starch from the rice which made it become so creamy. As I have mentioned before, Italians say that the risotto is ready when it is "al onda", which means when you push it back with your spoon and it gentle flows back, like a wave, or "onda" as they say in Italy. Normally at this point, you would add parmesan and butter to a traditional risotto, but I simply added some good extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of nutmeg and some freshly ground black pepper. I stirred it well and served it up piping hot, with a good sprinkle of the diced mushroom and and sage mix... a little salted ricotta... and buon apetito! Dinner was served!


  1. This looks fabulous! And I love the plate, by the way...

    1. Again, glad you like it Frank! The plate is from Sicily of course, as is the inspiration for the dish! Thanks for your support as always and best wishes from Frankfurt! Francesco