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Maximum comfort, maximum flavour

The year’s 2030. A flat white is £19.50. It costs £22.50 to have a moderately warm shower at home. And Revolut is offering £20,000 for every friend you refer.

Worried about the world ahead? This week’s recipe for sausage, mushroom, and mascarpone risotto is here to comfort you in ways only buttery carbs can.

This is an umami-rich dish that, despite what the length of instructions suggests, is easy to put together and delivers serious flavour.

This week’s album: 
Cashmere by Swet Shop Boys

This short and punchy album is pretty unique. It’s full of politically charged lyrics, touches on some serious issues, yet is humorous throughout. Race and racism are big topics, with the duo (made up of Queens-based rapper Heems and London-based actor Riz Ahmed) using their experiences to tell stories in a quirky style.

Getting the most from your ingredients

We’re going to cook the sausages and mushrooms before cooking the rice. This will help maximise their taste and texture.

It’s well-known that colouring meat and veg adds a depth of flavour. This week, while we colour, we’ll also remove the water content from the mushrooms and render the fat in the sausages. This will help intensify the flavours.

In both cases we’ll end up with a ‘dehydrated’ product. Later we’ll add them back into the creamy risotto where they’ll rehydrate a little.

This is really beneficial as a) the mushrooms won’t leak water-y juices into the risotto and b) we won’t end up with excess sausage fat in the risotto. A little extra work, but well worth it. Especially for those who don’t like mushrooms because they’re ‘slimy’.

We’ll cook the mushrooms until they’re deeply coloured and crispy. Then when you add them to the risotto you’ll have little pieces of intense mushroom flavour that have a nice bite to them.

The best sausages for this are Italian ones. Have a look in specialist delis and food shops as more and more places are starting to sell them.

They’re particularly good because their high meat and fat content add more flavour. Just note: they usually have a higher salt content so you may not need to season everything so much. The same goes for chicken stock cubes which have a higher salt content than fresh stock.

Got some spare Italian sausages post this week's recipe?
Try m
alloreddus alla campidanese (basically fennel sausage ragù).

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 15 mins to prep and 45 mins to cook.

1 shallot (finely diced)
100g butter
400g risotto rice
50ml white wine
1.5l chicken stock
400-450g Italian sausages
500g button mushrooms
(finely sliced)
100g mascarpone
10g parsley leaves
(finely chopped)
60g parmesan (grated & some shavings to finish)
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. Add a large frying pan to a high heat. Use a small knife to cut the casings of each sausage and remove the meat. Crumble into the pan (if your sausages don’t have a high fat content then add a small amount of oil first), and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the fat has rendered and the meat is nicely coloured and crispy in places. Drain any excess fat. Transfer to a tray with kitchen paper. Set aside.

2. Return the frying pan to a medium heat and add 60g of butter. Once foaming, add the sliced mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 mins (or until they’re golden brown and completely dehydrated). Drain through a sieve and transfer to a tray with kitchen paper. Set aside.

3. While the mushrooms cook we can start the risotto. Add the chicken stock to a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.

4. Place a heavy-bottomed pan (for cooking the rice) on a medium heat. Add the remaining 40g of butter and the diced shallot. Sweat slowly for 6-8 mins, stirring regularly.

5. When the shallot is soft and translucent, add the rice and turn the heat up slightly. We want to toast the rice but it’s important not to burn the shallot. Stir regularly for about 2 mins, or until the edges of the grains become translucent.

6. Pour in the wine (use something you’d be happy to drink the rest of) and stir 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).

7. 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 I: 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 II: it’s also important to scrape down the sides of the pan with your spatula. This ensures all the rice is cooking together as any grains left on the side would cook a lot more slowly and not be very pleasant if mixed in at the end.

8. Keep stirring as you add the stock. Adjust the temp as needed so that the rice is simmering gently. Your rice should have a creamy texture, and still be al dente, about 16-20 mins after adding the first ladle of stock.

9. You can test grains as you go to see how they change in texture with the cooking. Just make sure you don’t cook the rice for so long that it loses its bite. Check the seasoning levels too and add any salt you need (a lot will depend on how much salt is in your original stock).

10. Add in the sausage meat and mushrooms. Stir through. Check the consistency, adding extra stock or water to loosen things if necessary. Now remove the pan from the heat. The risotto should be fairly liquidy at this stage, but the next step will thicken it slightly and bring it together.

11. Add your mascarpone and beat rigorously with a 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.

NOTE: it’s important to do this off the heat so your mascarpone emulsifies into the sauce without splitting. Heating parmesan too much also produces an unpleasant grainy texture.

12. Cover your pan with a tea towel and allow the risotto to rest for 2 mins. Stir through the chopped parsley. Divide between warmed plates and finish with a few shavings of parmesan.

Final thought

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.

Speak next week,


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

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