Yesterday was a great day at the races! My friend Bruce van Halderen sure knows how to throw a party, The Loudfire tent just gets better every year.
I found some local dried porcini in Pick n Pay and was given a few spectacular shittake mushrooms by La Perla so thought I must make a little risotto.
The best way to make risotto is with a glass of wine in one hand and wooden spoon in the other and a good friend keeping you company while you stir.
This recipe will feed four comfortably, I halved it and made a portion for two.
- 400gms arborio rice (about 100gms per person)
- 20gms dried porcini mushrooms
- 125ml (half a cup) white wine
- about 150gms of shiitake mushrooms chopped (more or less)
- 2 litres of stock (about 500ml per 100gms of rice)
- 1 onion finely chopped
- a handful of grated parmesan or pecorino
- chopped parsley (optional)
- a good knob of butter and then another one for the end
how to make:
- soak the dried porcini in about a cup of boiling water and allow to rehydrate for about 5 – 10 minutes, reserving the liquid to form part of the stock
- make the stock incorporating the porcini water.Try and use the best possible stock you can find, homemade is best. I used a Thelma chicken stock which I quite like, but if you can get your hands on mushroom stock this is also very nice. The lack of a decent commercially available stock in South Africa is an ongoing irritation and I always buy up on trips overseas.
- melt the butter in a heavy bottom pan / or pot and fry the onion for a few minutes until soft.
- add the chopped up mushrooms (chop the rehydrated porcini quite fine) and fry for a few minutes until cooked.
- add the rice and stir through for a few minutes (this toasts the rice slightly giving it a nice nutty flavour)
- add the white wine and allow it to be completely absorbed
- add a ladle of hot stock at a time and stir continuously until its absorbed. Repeat this process until the risotto is cooked through but still al dente.
- when ready, remove form the heat and stir in another knob of butter (I used some porcini butter), the chopped parsley and the parmesan cheese
- allow to rest for about two minutes then serve.
A little ramble about shiitake mushrooms….and something I didn’t know. The Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) is the first mushroom to have been cultivated by humans and originates from the Chinese province of Qingyuan. The traditional method of growing Shiitakes is from a grafted wood log. It’s quite a painstaking process where the log from an oak (or in Japan the shii tree) is inoculated with mycelium. The farmer then has to wait two to four years for the mycellium to spread sufficiently to produce mushrooms. This log will then go on to produce mushrooms for up to six years.
The modern techniques for producing shiitake have reduced the gap from inoculation to fruiting to seven weeks and its the second most important mushroom crop in the world. Up until a few years ago shiitake mushrooms were not available in South Africa, so its really wonderful to find them more or less quite easily.
‘It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.’ ~Lewis Grizzard
Take a handful of frozen blueberries and a handful of frozen raspberries (or strawberries) and scoop in about 3 tablespoons of fat-free yoghurt (I use strawberry fat-free) and a good glug of skim milk and blend in a processor or using the Braun hand blender. So delicious and healthy – its the perfect afternoon snack to bridge the long gap between lunch and supper.
The inspiration for making this came from a flavour of a packet of crisps I found in London in 2005. At that time I had never seen smoked paprika in SA, so I bought some home to try this interesting sounding flavour combination on a real chicken.
The first time I made it, it came out well, and I liked the combination, but lately I’m cooking poultry with a lot more liquid so I tweaked my recipe.
I love a nice succulent chicken which has roasted and generated all its own delicious saucy gravy.
- 1 free range chicken (I only ever use free range)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock ….0r you could leave this out for a dryer bird)
- 2 oranges
yes it’s that easy – and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
how to make:
- preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
- cut one of the oranges in half and squeeze out about a third of the juice and add it to the pan and then put the two cut halves into the chicken. The juice will drip out during the cooking process adding more succulence and orange flavour
- squeeze the juice of the other orange and add to the pan (you can also add the orange skins)
- sprinkle 1 tsp of smoked paprika over the top of the chicken. * Tip: I put the paprika into a little sieve and then tap it to get an even distribution and covering otherwise it has a tendency to clump
- add the 1/2 a cup of stock to the pan (I used the new NOMU Fond – which is a concentrated liquid stock)
- cover the pan and chicken with foil and cook for about 30 minutes. remove the foil and cook for another 30 or so minutes. Take out the oven turn the chicken over so the underside is up, baste and then return to the oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the underside is golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and flip the bird back over so the top is back up and finish off for a further 30 minutes or so
- If the top of the chicken is getting too dark towards the end – loosely place the piece of foil over to protect
I carve up (not in a very elegant manner) and then pour the pan juices over the chicken and serve.
I doubled the recipe for book club last night and served with oven chips (sprinkled with ground up rosemary and Maldon salt) and a big green salad with my best vinaigrette. The girls were licking their lips.