Begin by re-hydrating the dried mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water, Use a ratio of 1:1.5 of mushrooms to water (so the water should be one and a half times the volume of mushrooms).
Once mushrooms are re-hydrated, or have been soaking for at least 15 minutes, begin to drain and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Remember to reserve the liquid as you will be using it later in your risotto.
Add the re-hydrated mushrooms and softened butter to a food processor or blender and blitz until it resembles a smooth paste. Scrape out the mushroom butter and place onto plastic wrap or grease-proof paper. Roll into a tube and place into the fridge.
Begin to start your risotto, but first cook your mushrooms:
Slice the mixed mushrooms. In a pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil and fry mushrooms. To the mushrooms, add one clove of chopped garlic, a sprig of thyme (leaves picked) and about ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, or to taste.
Fry the mushroom until cooked, or slightly golden on the edges. Set the mushrooms aside. We will add them to the risotto just before it is done. If you add them too early they will get over-cooked and mushy.
For the rice:
Add three tablespoons of olive oil into a heavy-based pan, and slowly fry onion, garlic and thyme until they are translucent. At this point season with salt and pepper (half a teaspoon of each should do the job). Remember to only use olive oil at this point, when making risotto, butter should only be added at the end as butter (together with Parmesan) works as a emulsifier in risotto.
Add rice to the onion and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is fully coated in the olive oil. Again, always use a wooden spoon when cooking risotto, stainless steel can crack and break the rice grain which makes the risotto too stodgy.
Once the rice is coated, allow it to fry a bit – a minute or two, you don’t want to burn the rice you just want it to start to get a bit of colour (light brown). Once the rice starts to stick to the bottom of the pan it is ready to add the wine.
Add wine, and allow for the alcohol smell to evaporate and then add the reserved mushroom liquid. Stir, and once the liquid is dissolved begin to add the stock ladle full at a time.
Have your stock simmering in a pot, as you should keep the stock at a constant (almost boiling) temperature. Once the ladle of stock is absorbed by the rice add another ladle of stock.
Continue to do this until the rice is cooked to your preference – the more liquid you add the more cooked your risotto will end up. Also give your rice a couple of stirs after every ladle, as you don’t want the rice to stick at the bottom.
Check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed. Just before you add the last ladle of stock, pour in the cooked mushrooms that were set aside earlier.
Stir, and add seasoning if needed. After the finale ladle of stock has gone in, quickly remove from the heat. At this point you want the risotto to be a little wetter than you intend serving it.
After the final ladle to remove it from the heat as the risotto will continue to absorb the liquid. Add mushroom butter and Parmesan cheese.
Slice the butter into rough chunks , together with the Parmesan cheese, place on top of the cooked risotto. Now, quickly put the lid on the risotto, do not stir - just leave the butter and cheese resting on top.
After three minutes, remove the lid and vigorously stir in the butter and Parmesan. This should help make your risotto creamy, but not stodgy.
Reprinted with permission of Foodmonger. To see more recipes, click here.