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Your new favourite starter

Don’t panic or anything, but there’s currently a shortage of good food recipes.

Fortunately, EMW isn’t part of said shortage, so I’m expecting you all to queue up to read this week’s recipe for mushroom risotto with mushroom 'crisps'.

Back-in-season ingredients, silky stock, and a velvety warmth make this dish so autumnal it hurts.

This week’s album
Kingdoms in Colour by Maribou State

This is a great album from British electronic duo Maribou State, and one that really builds on their first. Amazing production, and eclectic samples from a variety of genres and influences, make this an enticing listen. Perfect background music for cooking.

Mushrooms in bloom

Done well, mushroom risotto is unthinkably good.

When I worked at a restaurant in Oxfordshire I remember tasting their version for the first time. It’s a food memory I’ll never forget. The depth and intensity of mushroom flavour was unbelievable.

Fortunately for you, this week’s risotto closely reflects the restaurant’s. There are two things to discuss…

1. Stock

This is what delivers the incredible flavour of the dish and we'll use the exact same recipe from the restaurant. 

A lot of recipes call for making stock from dried mushrooms but, in my experience, the product is never that great. This recipe relies on the humble button mushroom from the supermarket. They're cheap and cheerful but the process for making the stock extracts all their natural juices and produces an intense flavour.

While making the stock from fresh mushrooms may seem like an effort, I promise it’s totally worth it. To help with timings it can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a couple of days. It's also suitable for freezing!

2. Finishing touches

To keep things traditional (and costs down), we’re going to finish the risotto slightly differently from how we did it in the restaurant. There we used cream, fresh truffle, and wild mushroom. Here we’ll just use butter and mascarpone. Still 100% delicious.

Autumn sees the arrival of some incredible wild mushrooms and truffle. Both are delicious but can be tricky to source. What’s more, if you do come by them then they come with a considerable price tag.

Varieties such as chanterelle, pied mouton, girolle, and trompette de la mort fetch between £40-£50/kg. While decent autumn truffle can reach £1000-1500/kg!

If you’ve got any of those then crack on. Give your wild mushrooms a clean, quickly sauté with a little butter, then finish with a few drops of lemon juice and use them as a garnish. 

Not my best angle, but here I am in said Oxfordshire restaurant looking very serious.

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 35 mins to prep and 25 mins to cook.


Mushroom stock:

2 shallots (peeled & finely sliced)

70ml olive oil

1 sprig of thyme

2kg button mushrooms (thinly sliced)

200ml dry white wine

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


Mushroom ‘crisps’:

300g button mushrooms (thinly sliced)

100g butter

Sea salt



350g risotto rice (Carnaroli, Vialone or Arborio)

1 tbsp olive oil

100ml dry white wine

Mushroom stock (see above)

100g butter (chilled and diced)

60g mascarpone

60g Parmesan (freshly grated)

Handful of parsley leaves (roughly chopped)

¼ lemon (juice only)

Salt & black pepper

1 tbsp truffle oil (optional)

Ready, steady, cook

1. Start with the stock… The easiest way to slice the mushrooms is to use a slicing attachment on a food processor. Otherwise, use a small sharp paring knife to slice them by hand (you don’t have to be too precise and it’s a good way to practice your knife skills).

2. Place a very large pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil and sweat the shallots with the thyme and a good pinch of salt for about 8 mins (or until soft and translucent).

3. Put the sliced mushrooms in the pan. Stir well to cover them in the olive oil/shallot mixture. Add the wine and a few twists of pepper. Turn up the heat to full and cover with a tight-fitting lid (or cover with cling film before you turn the heat up to full). Cook on a high heat for 12-14 mins.

4. Transfer the mushrooms to a large fine sieve (or large colander and then a sieve). Apply pressure with the back of a ladle to push through all the liquid. Set aside for later.

NOTE: no water is added to this stock. This creates an extremely concentrated flavour solely from the natural juices of the mushrooms.

5. To make the mushroom crisps, heat the butter in a small frying pan. When it’s foaming, add the sliced mushrooms (these are better cut by hand, rather than a food processor, and can be slightly thicker). Leave to cook on a medium-high heat, stirring every so often, until they’re browned, crisp, and dehydrated (this will take 15-20 mins).

Drain through a sieve and transfer to a tray lined with kitchen paper. This removes the excess butter. Reserve until needed later.

6. Now for the risotto… Put your stock in a pan and bring to a simmer.

7. Place a heavy-bottomed pan (for cooking the rice) on a medium heat. Add 40g of the butter and your olive oil. When foaming, add the rice and ‘toast’ it, stirring constantly, for about 2 mins (or until the edges of the grains become translucent).

NOTE: when making a risotto you would usually soften shallot or onion before adding the rice. We’re not doing that here because there’s a considerable amount of shallot at the base of the stock which provides enough flavour.

8. Pour in the wine (use something you’d be happy to drink the rest of) and stir well until it has evaporated. It should come to the boil quickly (taste after 90 seconds to see whether the alcohol has burnt off).

Now add a generous pinch of sea salt (adding the salt before the wine can hinder how well the wine is absorbed).

9. Once the wine has evaporated, add a ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir regularly. Add enough to just cover the rice. Once the first ladle of stock has been absorbed, add another and repeat the process.

NOTE ONE: it’s important to add the stock a little at a time so that we don’t end up just boiling the rice. Doing it like this ‘agitates’ the rice so it releases its starch. This is what makes for the gorgeous creamy texture at the end.

NOTE TWO: it’s important to scrape down the sides of the pan with your spatula. This ensures all the rice is cooking together and no grains are left uncooked on the sides.

10. Keep stirring as you add the stock, and adjust the temperature as needed so the rice is simmering gently. About 16-20 mins after adding the first ladle of stock your rice should have a creamy texture while still being ‘al dente’. Add in your mushroom ‘crisps’ at this stage and stir through.

NOTE: test grains as you cook to see how they change in texture. You don’t want to cook for so long that the rice loses its bite. Check the seasoning levels as you go and add any extra salt if needed.

11. Remove the pan from the heat. The risotto should be fairly liquid-y at this stage, but the next step will thicken it and bring things together.

12. Add in the remaining diced butter and mascarpone (and truffle oil if using) and beat rigorously with the spatula or by tossing the pan. When fully incorporated, add in the grated parmesan and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Beat again.

It’s important to do this off the heat so that the butter emulsifies into the sauce without splitting. Heating parmesan too much also produces a grainy texture. Bad news.

NOTE: quick Italian lesson… Risotto should be served all’onda, meaning ‘on the wave’. Your risotto should be wavy, fluid, and basically pourable. It shouldn’t be stodgy, firm, or able to stand up on the plate.

13. Cover your pan with a tea towel and allow it to rest for 2 mins. Squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice and stir through the chopped parsley. Serve. Eat. Good news.

Final thought

Fancy trying another risotto? This stock can be used for risotto al barolo to make that dish vegetarian. Just use a 50:50 mix of stock and water so red wine remains your dominant flavour.

Or what about risotto al Parmigiano or risotto alla Milanese the crowd screams? This stock would be a bit too strong for these but they're all good risotti.

Same time next week,


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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