Serves 6 as a starter, or 4 as a main.
1 litre (2 pints) of stock. Preferably chicken or veal but if you want to keep it vegetarian, use good vegetable stock, but you may have to adjust the seasoning.
3 shallots, finely chopped, or 2 medium onions
2-3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
400g risotto rice (arborio or my favourite; 3 grain with rice, barley and spelt)
1 small wineglass of dry vermouth (extra dry martini bianco or dry, white wine)
250g mushrooms, either fresh, dried and reconstituted or tinned. 1,5-2 tins of chanterelles are just right.
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp fresh thyme (1 tbsp dried)
1/2 bunch of fresh, flat leaf parsley
1 pinch of chilli
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
100g freshly grated parmesan.
First prepare the mushrooms. Chop and put straight into a very hot, dry pan, preferably iron. Don't put it all in at once, do them in batches, so the liquid drains away. Put the mushrooms to the side and put a generous lug of olive oil in the hot pan. Add thyme and garlic and let fry 1 minute or so. Stir so it doesn't burn. Then add the mushrooms, salt and chilli and let it fry for another couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the lemon juice and some of the parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning according to taste.
Now for the risotto. Use a nice, heavy pan and put olive oil, onion and celery in. Let it sauté until translucent and soft. Pour your glass of vermouth or wine - no tasting! - and place it next to the stove. Add the rice and crank up the heat. Stir continuously s o it doesn't burn. It's supposed to go all dry and almost crackly. When all the oil has been absorbed, add the vermouth and keep stirring. When all the fumes are gone and it's starting to look dry, it's time to add the first ladle of (warm) stock. Turn the heat down and prepare to stir and stir and stir until the risotto is done.
As you've put in your first ladle of stock - you can of course pour it in directly from a pitcher should you prefer - also add the mushrooms. When the liquid has been absorbed, add more. A little at the time and stir. It releases the starch from the rice and makes it go all creamy, rather than grainy like pilau. The slower you make it, the creamier it'll get. When most of the stock is gone, after about 20 minutes, try the rice. It's supposed to be quite firm. Add the last of the stock, turn the heat off and when that last stock is gone, add the butter in cubes, together with the fresh parmesan (and really do use fresh, that powdered stuff is vile!) and the rest of the parsley. Put the lid on, take the pot off the stove and let it rest 10-15 minuter. Serve immediately with a fresh green salad and yummy bread. It really has to rest those extra minutes, but don't save it for another day - it'll never taste as nice!
Image borrowed from enestaaendemat.no