Tuesday, May 16, 2006

sip and stir

Yesterday I finally cleared enough space to think about cooking. There is nothing over the top about this little kitchen, it’s small but functional. The appliances are very simple, not top of the range, just built to do their job. There was little in the fridge beyond some leftover champagne and butter. My neighbour had dropped off a strange care package of 2 shallots, a large chilli, some chives and a stick of lemongrass. While out I found some perfect looking swiss browns, so mushroom and champagne risotto it would have to be.

Risotto is something I can take or leave, but it is warm and comforting food. I rarely order it when dinning out – too often a "vegetarian" version uses chicken stock and it is usually drenched in butter and cheese. There is something reassuring about having the time to stand at the stove and stir a pot, and this seemed a good way to get into the groove of my new place to cook.

Do I really need to write a risotto recipe? It’s such a simple process. It requires a little patience, so have some good company to sip a drink with or crank up an entertaining playlist on the pod.

Mushroom and champagne risotto

Finely slice some shallots or onions and cook in some olive oil til soft.
Add some crushed garlic and stir
Toss in some sliced mushrooms (whatever variety takes your fancy) and cook for a minute or 2
Add handfuls of uncooked Arborio rice, stir til coated with oil
Splash in some champagne (about a cup)
Now ladle in some warm vegetable stock*
If you like, add some chopped sun dried tomatoes (I know they are considered pretty naff these days but they add colour and little bursts of salty flavour)
Have a drink
Stir some more (this took about 20 minutes)
When the grains of rice seem just cooked, throw in some chives, season with salt and pepper. Cover firmly with a lid and forget about it for 5-10 minutes (this is a good time to make a green salad).

Stir through a knob of butter and it is ready to serve.

It tasted fabulous. I go for a consistency that is neither soupy, nor dry and this was just perfect. The champagne gave the mushrooms an extra dimension without being overpowering.

* to be honest I just used a low salt, msg-free stock cube dissolved in boiling water (shock horror) straight from the jug – not actually simmering away on the stove. Guess what? It was just fine.

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Anonymous Matt at Abstract Gourmet said...

From one risotto fan to another, this looks delish. There is something about risotto that is really satisfying when it comes out just right. Can't say I've ever tried using champagne as a base, normally a nice dry white wine fits... but I might have to give it a go.


1:39 pm  

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