This week, Sophie has been in Italy on her school trip to Rome and Florence, so there were a few moments of stress when the earthquakes hit on Wednesday. Luckily, they managed to avoid them and didn't even feel them. It'll be good to have her back tomorrow though ! In honour of her Italian escapade, I've been cooking lots of Italian meals this week, mainly using products that I won after taking part in a Tuscan recipe competition with my recipe for Tuscan slow-cooked pork belly and beans.
The starting point for my risotto was a bag of dried porcini mushrooms - looking around the kitchen, I spotted a couple of forlorn-looking leeks and I grabbed some bacon lardons out of the freezer. Pancetta would be more authentic but it tasted lovely and was a big hit with the whole family.
Bacon, Leek & Porcini Mushroom Risotto
half a bag of dried porcini mushrooms
1 pack bacon lardons (or pancetta)
glug of white wine (optional)
some of the soaking liquid from the mushrooms
generous sprinkle of parmesan
Start by soaking the mushrooms in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the bacon.
Add the leeks and cook for 3 minutes until soft.
Toss in the uncooked rice and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
Add a ladleful of liquid - it could be water, chicken stock, liquid that the mushrooms were soaking in ... I had the end of a bottle of white cooking wine so I added a glug of that.
Remove the mushrooms from the water and add to the pan.
Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes or so, depending on the rice you use. Add another ladleful of liquid from time to time as required to allow the rice to cook and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Taste to check the seasoning - I didn't need to add salt because the bacon was already salty enough. Scatter a handful of parmesan over the top just before serving.
I'm not usually keen on dried mushrooms because I find they are rubbery and full of grit, but these ones were lovely - packed with earthy flavour and beautifully soft when rehydrated. For an authentic risotto, you should use short-grained Arborio rice which releases starch and produces a creamy risotto. I was having a #KitchenClearout though and had a tub of Amira Silver Basmati rice (this was a free sample offer that I shared in my "fab freebies of the week" Saturday roundup back before Christmas so you might have some too !) and it worked beautifully.
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Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because it used some dried porcini mushrooms, a small tub of rice and the end of a bottle of white cooking wine.