Saturday, 2 April 2011

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese

Risotto isn't actually difficult to make. It's like savoury rice pudding, and open to lots of different flavour combinations. The only thing is that you have to stick around to stir it. Doesn't seem like such a chore, especially if you have nice bottle of wine open to keep you company in your stirring duties.

Arborio rice is a creamy, rounded rice that absorbs liquids beautifully. The rice is the star of the dish, no matter what you add to it, and the rice calls the shots. So, whatever amounts of liquids you read in a recipe are approximations, the rice will let you know when it has absorbed enough. You are done when there is still a tiny amount of chew in the center, but the grain is otherwise soft and creamy and blissfully and harmoniously combined with the liquid. Take it off the heat when it is still fairly moist, it will continue to absorb over time.

This is an adaptation of Jamie Oliver's Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto, with an addition of mushrooms and a distinct increase in acids. You might say I kicked it up a notch. ;-)

Spinach Risotto with Goat Cheese
adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe on Serious Eats: Recipes


serves 4

    * 1 tablespoon olive oil
    * 4 tablespoon butter
    * 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    * 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
    * ¾ lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
    * 1.5 cups Arborio rice
    * ¾ cup white wine
    * 4 cups chicken stock, heated
    * 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
    * Nutmeg, for grating
    * 1 brick frozen chopped spinach,
    * 2 handfuls Parmesan cheese
    * Zest and juice of  lemon
    * 4 oz soft goat cheese


      In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and celery and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook gentle until soft and sweet but not browned, 10 minutes.

     Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.

      Add the rice and raise the heat to medium-high; toast, stirring constantly, until the rice begins to look translucent. Add the wine, stirring, until absorbed, then ladle in some stock. Continue adding stock to the rice little-by-little, stirring continually, until the rice loses any chalkiness and tastes smooth. Add in drained spinach. Salt and pepper as necessary.
      Turn off the heat and add the remaining butter and Parmesan, season to taste with fresh nutmeg and more salt and pepper if need be. Stir to incorporate well. Serve with a little goat cheese crumbled on top, and a nice bottle of wine.