I first learnt how to make risotto when I was about 14. We were on the farm and my ouma had bought exotic mushrooms. We didn’t have a recipe, so we just Googled one and it was a huge success! Later, we wanted to make it again, but alas, the recipe was not to be found anywhere.
I started developing my own recipe from a variety of recipes I found online. I’d change them if I didn’t like certain ingredients (like shallots), or their method seemed a bit too technical for me. And so, my absolutely no-fuss, super easy and delectably divine mushroom risotto recipe was born! It's really easy to make, and it's a super impressive dish - so hopefully you can win a few people over with this creation. I've also taken photos of the process, so you can see what each step of the process should look like.
200g exotic mushrooms (or 250g plain button mushrooms, basically just a punnet of mushrooms)
1 tablespoon butter
1 liter chicken stock (you can use any stock - beef, porcini - whatever suits your taste)
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
200 g arborio rice
½ cup white wine (Recommended: Jordan Unoaked Chardonnay)
Pink Himalayan Salt
Parmesan for serving
(The butter can be replaced with oil & Parmesan left out to make it a vegan dish.)
First things first, prepare your chicken stock! I usually forget that the stock should be boiling, and when I get to that stage in the recipe, I need to pause all the other cooking and first make my stock. So I suggest start with the stock, and keep it boiling or simmering whilst you do the rest.
With that in the background, we’ll start with the mushrooms. I usually buy the exotic mushroom tray from Woolworths. They’re super tasty, and the perfect portion size. All you have to do with the mushrooms at this stage is to sauté them with the butter over medium heat until they’ve changed color. Then, set them aside until the end of the recipe.
Next, in a rather large pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil (I usually just use more butter), with garlic if you’d like, until it just changes color. I would recommend doing so over low heat as the onion shouldn’t be burnt at all.
Then, add the rice and stir it until all the rice grains are covered in oil (as in the photo). If you decide to use butter, you might need to add some more until the grains are coated.
Now for the wine. I personally think that the wine used in cooking shouldn’t be the lowest quality you can find, or just the cheapest bottle. It should be a wine that you enjoy and would actually drink with the meal. That’s why I use the Jordan Unoaked Chardonnay - it’s around R85 at Woolworths (and R120 at Pick ‘n Pay) and it's among the to 6% of all wines in the world (via Vivino App). I really love this wine (it was recommended as a “sushi wine” at a tasting we did in first year at Stellenbosch) and it gives a really bold flavor to the dish, which can be lost if your stock is strong and you’re using a very light wine.
You just add all the wine to the pan and turn up the heat so that the wine cooks away. This is when the rice has completely absorbed the wine, and it starts looking a bit creamy. The test for it is in the video below - a clear path with no liquid oozing.
Then, what is probably the most time consuming: adding the stock. Most recipes say you should add the boiling stock one ladle at a time, but you’ll probably be standing behind the stove until they’ve invented 3D printing meals off the internet. I’ll usually turn the heat down to medium and add 2 ladles (ground breaking) just to speed it up. The next ladle is added when the stock has been absorbed. This is repeated until all the stock is finished (it can take up to 20 minutes). The test for when it is full absorbed, is the same “clean path test” for the wine. You’ll see that the rice granules are fat and fluffy and that the stock has become like a creamy sauce.
Getting the rice al dente is the tricky part, because you need to taste it to know, but it’s also scolding hot and you might burn your tongue. After all the stock has been absorbed, your rice should be soft and chewable (do not mushy). I strongly believe that you should taste food whilst cooking, else you won’t know it it’s any good or not, or whether it’s missing something. At this point, I’ll usually add some pink Himalayan salt, because I feel the risotto is missing something.
You might need to add another cup of stock (or some more wine) if the rice is still hard. When the rice is finally the desired texture, you can add in the mushrooms and some Parmesan and just give it a stir-though for a minute or so in order to heat up the mushrooms again.
And voilà! You have just made the easiest risotto on this planet! Now all that’s left to do, is sprinkle some more Parmesan and then enjoy your creation!