Must be the season, but I am nourishing a healthy obsession with mushrooms at the moment. Even though we are still far from a cold automnal weather, my body tells me I have to eat mushroomy, creamy, white-winy hearty meals.
The mushrooms on offer at the supermarkets get me quite frustrated, always the perennial White Button and if you are lucky, some Swiss brown and Shitake mushrooms but that’s about it. It is however possible to find more variety like Pine mushrooms, Portobello at Fruit & Vegetable shops and food growers markets (Carriage Works, Pyrmont Growers markets…etc), but you can’t find the same varieties as in Europe like Porcini/Ceps, Chanterelles, Morels, or in a dried or frozen form. It is quite tricky to import fresh mushrooms to Australia, as the trip can damage them and the quarantine regulations being quite tough, the least speck of dirt can see your whole batch of mushrooms confiscated and destroyed, so it is not worth the risk.
I therefore decided to get my hands on some Ceps, supposedly the King of all mushrooms, that is so fleshy, almost meaty, and flavoursome that it can be the star of the dish itself, instead of only being used for seasoning. I choose to get hold of some frozen ones, instead of dried ones, as it conserves their texture and taste better and therefore is a good substitute for fresh ones.
I decide a simple risotto might be the best way to “showcase” the ingredient (like the chefs say). Plus ok, I admit, I was probably influenced by the porcini risotto the Queensland girls made a few weeks ago on My Kitchen Rules!
I recently bought a fairly fancy rice from Urban Food Market, Acquarello, an organic rice used by chefs (amongst whom Giovanni Pilu from the eponymous restaurant at Freshwater) so decide to use it for this recipe for a truly decadent risotto.
While the Ceps are thawing, I chop the onion, and heat up the vegetable stock (Campbell’s, nothing fancy here). Once the chopped onions are translucent after frying in a saucepan, I add the rice, then some dry white wine, then 1/5 of the stock, stir until the rice has absorbed then repeat the operation until I have almost finished the stock. After chopping the Ceps, I fry them in a bit of butter with chopped parsley and once they are nice and golden, I add the cream. Once I add the end of the stock, I stir in the mushrooms and cream sauce and finish with the grated parmesan cheese, as well as a sprinkle of Piment d’Espelette (Basque mild chili powder) and serve straight away.
Well, that wasn’t bad at all! The risotto is really rich, creamy and cheesy and the Ceps add a really lovely earthy flavour. I finally understand what the hype is all about!
Ingredients for 4 persons (Marmiton.org):
- 500g Arborio Rice
- Between 400-500g frozen Ceps / Porcini
- ½ Onion
- Parsley (fresh or dry)
- 50g Butter
- 250ml Cream
- 1 glass Dry white wine
- 1lt Vegetable stock
- Grated parmesan cheese (qty according to taste)