Spinach and porcini risotto


First published in 2019
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This recipe has a deep earthiness from both the dried porcini and the irony spinach. These flavours are mellowed and balanced by the addition of the butter, Parmesan and mascarpone at the end, leaving you with a rich and unctuous plate of food. Please don’t be put off by the quantity of butter in this recipe! As I see it, risotto is a treat so if you’re going to make it, then throw caution to the wind and use plenty of butter – it does make a difference. I would also say that the quality of any risotto relies on the stock you use so if possible, use a good, deeply flavoured stock. A watery, insipid stock will give you a lifeless risotto.

A note on the saucepan you should use for the risotto. Don’t use a shallow and wide pan as the stock will boil off too quickly – better to use a saucepan that has slightly higher sides. For this quantity, I would suggest a saucepan that has a diameter of around 22cm.




Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Place the dried porcini into a mixing bowl and pour over enough boiling water to submerge them fully (about 300ml). Cover and set aside
Plunge the spinach into the pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. The spinach wants to be cooked, not in any way al dente. Drain and allow to cool slightly
Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out some of the excess liquid. Chop half the spinach relatively finely. Place the other half in a blender with 3–4 tablespoons of stock and blend to a puree. This may seem like a bit of a faff but the result is that you have a green risotto that still has some texture from the chopped spinach.
Heat your stock and keep at a murmuring simmer. Make sure you’re happy with the seasoning as this is what will season your risotto
Melt three-quarters of the butter in a saucepan and then add the onion and celery. Sweat on a very low heat for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes. It is important that nothing colours so keep the heat very low
Drain your porcini (reserving the liquor) and roughly chop. Add them to the risotto base and cook for 5 minutes
Add the rice, turn up the heat and stir well, allowing each grain to be coated in the buttery base. Cook on a high heat for two minutes until the rice becomes slightly translucent. Pour in the wine and keep stirring, until almost all the wine has boiled off
Lower the heat and add a ladle of stock, along with the sieved porcini liquor. The risotto should be blip-blip boiling, not faster. The amount you stir the risotto will reflect how creamy it is at the end; the more you stir, the creamier the result. Once the stock has nearly been absorbed, add another ladle. Continue like this for 15 minutes
At this point taste the risotto and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. The rice should still be a little too al dente to eat but not far off from being ready. If you think your rice is still at a crunchier stage then keep cooking, until you reach a delicate crunch
Now add your pureed and chopped spinach and stir in. The texture of the risotto should be like a loose porridge. Adjust with stock as necessary (you may not need to use all the stock). Cook for the final two minutes. Taste again and make sure you’re happy with the texture of the rice – a little bite, nothing harsher
Add the remaining butter and almost all of Parmesan and stir well together. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 2 minutes, so that everything combines properly and gets to know each other
Spoon onto plates and, if using, place a teaspoon of mascarpone on top of each portion. Grate over the remaining Parmesan. Eat straight away or else the risotto will go claggy
First published in 2019
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