The idea of placing a large dish of something tasty and wholesome in the middle of the table for everyone to just dig into is really appealing.
Often people are put off making risotto as they think it requires too much time or patience but in reality the prep is minimal and there is something quite therapeutic about stirring the pot as the dish edges towards the correct consistency. This will not take as long as you might think.
One great tip for checking if the rice is cooked is to remove one grain from the pan, cut it in half with your thumbnail and have a look at the inside, there should be just a tiny pinprick of whiteness running down the centre of the grain, once you see this, you are good to go!
As the Scottish mushroom season is upon us, I thought that these little beauties should take centre stage. Although mushrooms appear all year round, there’s no time like now. September to November is when they’re in most abundance and variety.
In this dish I used a good quality chicken stock to add depth of flavour but for a vegetarian alternative, use vegetable stock and substitute the parmesan for a vegetarian alternative.
A splash of olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped but keep a few of the smallest ones whole (I used button mushrooms and chanterelles)
300g risotto rice, such as arborio
175ml dry white wine
1 litre good quality chicken stock
A handful of chives, chopped
A handful of thyme, leaves picked
50g parmesan, grated
Melt 25g of the butter in the oil in a pan over a low-medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat until softened. Stir in the mushrooms and raise to a medium heat, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have softened.
Tip the rice into the pan and cook for 1 minute until it appears glossy. Pour in the wine and let it bubble away to nothing. Put the stock in a separate pot, bring to a gentle simmer and have a ladle to hand.
Keep the risotto pan over a medium heat and pour in a ladle of stock.
Simmer the rice, stirring often, until it has absorbed all the liquid.
Repeat the previous step, adding a ladle of stock at a time and stirring until the liquid is absorbed. You may not need to use all the stock, just keep an eye for that pinprick of white in the grain of rice. Once cooked remove from heat.
Add the remaining butter, chives and most of the parmesan, reserving some for garnish. Cover and leave to sit for a minute so that the rice can take up any excess liquid. Give it a final stir and season.
Spoon into one large bowl and sprinkle with the thyme and remaining parmesan.
Mark Greenaway is the Chef Patron of Restaurant Mark Greenaway on North Castle Street and Bistro Moderne in Stockbridge.