My grandmother used to make a risotto for me when I’d spend the day with her as a young child in a small village in Greece. She lived in a very old stone built two storey home literary around the corner from my parents. Although my father tried to have her move in with us she refused. Her home was mystical to me as you walked through a narrow footpath, passing underneath the largest fig tree I’d ever seen. Her home was nestled amongst a blueberry and almond tree – which in the right time of the year would flower and blanket the ground with pink flowers. I can see why she never left. I don’t remember the ingredients of this risotto but I do remember her always stirring it gently as it simmered. It was something we bonded over as we both very very much enjoyed risotto. The blueberry, almond tree and fig-tree have since long gone but the old home stands tall to this day. Anyway, my daughter seems to have inherited my grandmothers and my love for risotto.
Rest-assured this risotto – mushroom and spinach is good enough to make when you have your hard core Italian Foodie Friends over for dinner.
3L Very light chicken or vegetable stock- boiled, and 1/2 cup extra in case we need it
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 onion finely chopped
2 spring onions finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
250g mushrooms ( mix of shitake and bell mushrooms )
1 cup very finely chopped spinach or baby spinach
1/4 cup parmigiano
3/4 cup dry white wine at room temparature
It is important to use the right kind of stock. Good quality and light. Sometimes I water it down as you don’t want it to overwhelm the dish. Reserve a little extra stock on the side sometimes you just need that little bit more liquid. If the risotto is not served straight away the starches will soak any liquids you have. Keep a little edxtra boiled stock and drizzle a little bit through the risotto.
The rice is also important. Arborio or carnaroli holds its structure and has a high amount of starch.
A good tip is to saute half the mushrooms and half the spinach in a little butter and garlic – separately. Reserve and place on top of your serving plate over the risotto.
Finely chop the onion and spring onion and garlic. Take the time to do this. Slice the large mushrooms thickly. Soak porcini in the bowl of stock. Drain and reserve stock.
Heat 1/2 the butter and 1/2 the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and spring onion. A good tip is to saute half the mushrooms and half the spinach in half the butter and garlic – separately. Reserve and place on top of your serving plate over the risotto.
Add fresh mushrooms and parsley ( sage is nice if you have it ) and saute for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the rice and also saute until rice becomes shiny. This should be only for a couple of minutes. Pour cream and stir through let it simmer for a few seconds, gradually add wine and stir until reduced. Add the spinach saute briskly until spinach is wilted . From here, pour 1/4 cup of stock slowly stir through, let it simmer and stir on the occasion. Do this until grains are tender and stock is absorbed. Stir through some of the parmigiano before serving.
Serve and add some of the reserved sauteed mushrooms, garlic and spinach over the risotto serving. Add parmigiano and pepper to taste.