Porcini risotto

Porcini risotto

Risotto ai funghi

6 as a starter 4 as a main
Helen Cathcart

We loved this recipe when we ate it at our friend Gary Marshall’s house. Gary makes a small quantity because, being from Italian descent, he only ever eats it as a starter. To make it a main meal, double the recipe. ‘Make sure it is sizzling,’ he says, as you should hear a risotto not just see it. Keep tasting it so that you get the seasoning right and have a feel for when the rice grains are done. Keep the pan hot, or the stock doesn’t boil off. My preferred risotto rice is carnaroli. It is a lot more forgiving than arborio as it is less absorbent and therefore less likely to make the risotto sticky.


Quantity Ingredient
50g dried porcini mushrooms
500ml warm water
500g portobello or chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
1 sprig rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
600ml Poached chicken & chicken stock
or Vegetable stock
50g salted butter
1 medium leek, finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
150g carnaroli rice
150ml white wine
25g grated parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
small handful parsley, finely chopped


  1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with the warm water for 15–20 minutes. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the water with a slotted spoon, saving the soaking water for later, and coarsely chop them on a board, then add them to the chopped portobello mushrooms. Pass the mushroom soaking water through a piece of paper towel in a sieve into a separate bowl, to remove any sediment.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic, rosemary and thyme in a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until you can smell the garlic. Add the mushrooms and fry for 5–7 minutes, until soft. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside, and discard the rosemary and thyme (leave the garlic in). Don’t wash the pan. Warm the stock in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile, gently heat the rest of the oil and half the butter in the frying pan you used for cooking the mushrooms over a low heat. When hot, add the leek, onion and celery, and fry for about 10 minutes until softened. Increase the heat to medium, add the rice to the pan and allow it to crackle and toast for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the cooked mushrooms to the pan and stir through, then pour in the wine. Bring to the boil and cook for 5–7 minutes, stirring, until the wine is absorbed by the rice. Add a few ladlefuls of the warm stock and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue adding more stock as each addition gets absorbed. After 20–25 minutes, the rice grains should be almost transparent and have just a slight crunch in the middle. Remove the pan from the heat, making sure the consistency of the risotto is loose and not cloying. It should move easily – in Italy they call this 'al onda' (like a wave).
  4. Add the remaining butter and the Parmesan and stir through with vigour – this stage is called 'mantecare' and your effort is rewarded when the risotto becomes creamy as the starch breaks down. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Cover the pan for no more than 3 minutes. Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and serve scattered with parsley.
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