Monday, February 12, 2007

PORCINI RISOTTO WITH LEEK AND ARTICHOKE
Serves 2

Getting frisked at customs for smuggling over these dried Porcini from Italy was totally worth it.

This risotto is oven-baked, so it's really easy - put some garlic bread or focaccia in at the same time, and all you need is salad on the side. Carnaroli rice makes a better-textured risotto (firmer, more distinct grains) than Arborio (squidgey, rice-pudding grains).

1tbsp butter
1 large leek, finely chopped
0.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
6oz jerusalem artichokes (unpeeled weight)
200ml carnaroli rice
150ml white wine
2oz grated parmesan
Salt and pepper

To finish:
1 tbsp butter

Turn on the oven - about 300 deg F, 180 deg C - and put in an ovenproof dish.

Melt the butter in a wide pan over a gentle heat, and add the leeks. Put the dried mushrooms in a jug and pour over 1 pint of boiling water, then leave to soak. Now peel and chop the artichokes very, very finely, tipping into the pan quickly so they don't discolour. Keep stirring the pan, allowing the vegetables to sweat gently and soften.

After half an hour's soaking, remove the dried mushrooms (saving the liquid) from the jug - soft and juicy now - and chop them finely. Scrape them, and the juice, into the pan with the leeks. Now add the rice and stir it well until buttery. Pour in the white wine, add a good old grind of black pepper, and a teaspoon of salt. Add the liquid from the mushrooms and turn up the heat to bring the whole lot to simmering point.

Pour it all into your ovenproof dish, and slide into the oven for about 20 minutes. After that, take it out, stir it well, and sprinkle in the Parmesan, stirring it through. Dot the butter all over the top and return the dish to the oven for another 5 minutes, with two dinner plates.

Dish up and serve immediately.