Like clockwork, the rains come to wash summer into autumn, and a seasonal risotto noses its way on to the menu
Not because the angle of the sun has changed; nor because of a message from the leaves; nor even because the mushrooms were irresistible, but because it was on the schedule: I made a risotto this week, because that is what we decided back in July, when the summer stretched ahead like a warm lilo and September was a far away dot. And, to be honest, I blame the mushroom risotto. Last week when I looked at the schedule to remind myself what I should be writing about, I was not happy to see those two words, a rain dance for autumn. And, sure enough, when I went to buy the rice and dried mushrooms, summer snapped and it rained. Then it stopped, there was that smell and, because it is still warm, everything dried back to a cracker. But the damage was done, and to prove it, the leaves fell off the trees like sadness.
Anna Del Conte is my touchstone for risotto. She notes there is a well defined method, and I follow hers, also remembering her four bits of advice like a rhyme. Correct rice (carnaroli or arborio work well for most, then stumpy vialone nano for vegetable or fish risotti). A heavy-based pan with space for the rice to increase its volume by nearly three times. Good, well-flavoured stock. And template proportions: 300g rice, 1.3 litres of stock, 60g butter and 45g parmesan for four people (although depending on the day I might add a bit more). Del Conte also points out the clinking sound of the rice as it toasts slightly in the pan, before the liquid is added. Then, the steady addition of the stock (or other liquid). Risotto is a commitment to the pan for 16-20 minutes: you are the facilitator, the bridge, between the ingredients and the result. And, yes, there are oven, no-stir methods, but this is not that: this is my rain-dance risotto.
Rachel Roddy's recipe for mushroom risotto | A kitchen in Rome