A traditional creamy Italian Risotto has to be one of the ultimate comfort foods.
Whether it contains saffron and veal bone marrow (Risotto Milanese), or just a good Chianti and lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, it requires standing over the stove-top for 18-20 minutes as you add hot liquid in small increments, stirring until each addition is absorbed.
Not everyone wants to spend time doing that so here’s an alternative version where you prepare the risotto in the usual way but add all the hot stock at once then stick it in a blasting hot oven for approx 20 minutes, freeing you up to do other stuff.
You’ll need an ovenproof sauté pan or a fairly shallow stovetop-to-oven saucepan.
In this version, I’ve used dried porcini mushrooms (hand-picked by me of course), shredded prosciutto and fresh peas for a shot of color. Dried porcini mushrooms are available in good supermarkets and specialty food shops.
Vegetarians can leave out the prosciutto and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. Perhaps try adding some sliced fresh portobello or small brown chestnut/crimini mushrooms to replace the prosciutto.
A completely optional luxury would be to drizzle a little black or white truffle oil over each serving.
OVEN-BAKED RISOTTO with PORCINI, PROSCIUTTO & PEAS
(4 main course servings)
1 oz (28.5g) of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups (455ml) of hot water
4 oz (114g) of sliced prosciutto or fresh brown mushrooms
½ cup (114ml) of cooked peas
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of extra-v olive oil
1 ½ cups (measuring 340ml in a measuring jug) of Arborio/risotto rice
3 shallots, finely chopped
½ glass of dry white wine – approx 4 fl oz (114ml)
2 cups (455ml) of organic hot chicken or vegetable broth, with a little more on the side if needed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 – 4 oz (85 -114g) of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra to serve
Pre-heat the oven to 500F / 260C
Pour two cups of very hot water over the dried porcini and allow them to soak for 15 minutes. Strain them and add their soaking liquid to the chicken or vegetable stock in a separate pan and bring everything to a very low simmer. Coarsely chop the soaked mushrooms and set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in an ovenproof pan over a medium heat and sauté the shallots until they’re translucent. Add the rice and stir well, until each grain has a nice glossy coating of butter and oil. Pour in the wine and allow it to boil off, stirring constantly.
Now add the chopped porcini mushrooms, shredded prosciutto (or fresh mushrooms if using) and give everything a good stir – season with salt and freshly milled black pepper.
Carefully pour all the hot stock and mushroom soaking liquid into the pan, stir once and put it in the hot oven. Keep approx 1 extra cup of stock warm on the side in case you need it.
After 18 minutes, check the rice for done-ness – it should be al dente, like perfectly cooked pasta. If the grains still have a hard core and the liquid has all evaporated, add a little more hot stock, stir once and give it another 3 to 5 minutes.
Once the rice is perfectly cooked, remove it from the oven and quickly stir in the peas and grated cheese. Check the seasoning and if you prefer a slightly soupier risotto, add a little more hot stock.
Serve immediately with some extra Parmigiano cheese on top.
Note: any cold leftover risotto can be formed into little patties and sautéed in olive oil until nicely browned – serve hot with extra grated cheese scattered over and a few arugula leaves with a lemony dressing.