Despite the promise of a few sunny September days, it feels like autumn is already upon us. It is hard to accept that summer is over and the shops will soon be persuading us to prepare for Christmas. When it comes to deciding what to cook, this feels like a transitional period. I am not ready for winter comfort food, but find myself craving something rich and indulgent like a risotto.
I have always had a slightly informal approach to preparing risotto. It can be made almost entirely of store cupboard ingredients and can be easily transformed into something sublime with the addition of dried wild mushrooms. I have been making risotto in this somewhat cavalier fashion, with whatever I can find, thrown in for good measure, for years. That was until recently.
A few weeks ago, while on a photoshoot for locally based fine food company Urban Truffle, I got treated to an impromptu risotto masterclass. Time is of the essence when I am working, there is usually a lot to accomplish before the daylight fades. I often forget to eat or will just grab a quick snack. So when my client, chef and owner of Urban Truffle Jonathan Thurkettle, suggests making a fresh truffle risotto for lunch, I know I am in for a treat. All morning I have been shooting the most incredible black truffles, caviar, foie gras and other gourmet delights stocked by Urban Truffle. Jonathan, who has worked in some of the best Michelin starred restaurants, is passionate about sourcing and supplying the finest quality produce. This would be no ordinary risotto.
Jonathan places a heavy pan on the stove and gently sweats some finely chopped shallots in a little olive oil, before adding cubes of unsalted butter. He adds the arborio rice to the pan and ‘toasts’ it until sticky. Next, he adds some wine, stirring until the alcohol evaporates. ‘A risotto may be simple, but it is really important to use the best quality ingredients’, he explains. He adds freshly made chicken stock, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously until each is absorbed. Patience is the other essential ingredient of a good risotto, as this can take around 20 minutes.
‘You are looking for the consistency of ‘cream without cream” he says, ‘The rice should be al dente, with a slight chalkiness, as it will carry on cooking in the residual heat of the pan’. Apparently, a good way to tell if the risotto is ready is to draw a spoon through it, the risotto will slowly come back together. Jonathan stirs freshly shaved black truffle, grated parmesan and butter into the risotto and checks the seasoning before serving. As I sit down, he shaves some more fresh truffle over the risotto. I get the full experience of the truffle’s unmistakable heady aroma, as I take my first sublime mouthful.
Fresh truffles may not be a luxury I can afford as often as I would like, but they do make a wonderfully indulgent treat for a special occasion. The recipe below can be used as a base and adapted to make the most of other seasonal ingredients, such as wild, dried or cultivated mushrooms and asparagus.
Urban Truffle is giving one lucky reader the opportunity to win their The Ultimate Risotto Masterclass Hamper worth £155. The luxury hamper includes everything you need to make Jonathan’s wonderful recipe, including a 50g fresh black truffle and a bottle of vintage Barolo 2009 Ciabot Berton. This amazing giveaway is open to everyone over the age of 18, worldwide so be sure to enter. Scroll down below the recipe for the giveaway entry.
*this post is sponsored by Urban Truffle, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
- 40g fresh White or Black Winter Truffle, or 50g Summer Truffle
- 1 litre of fresh chicken or vegetable stock, approximately
- 180g Arborio rice
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed.
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 250ml of dry white wine
- 50g butter, diced
- 50g finely grated Parmesan
- salt to taste
- Using a truffle slicer or fine grater, grate ⅓ of the fresh truffle into a mixing bowl. Grate the cheese into the same bowl, and add ½ the diced butter and mix gently.
- Bring a saucepan to the boil with stock and keep on a low simmer.
- Using a heavy based, flat bottomed pan, sweat the shallots and garlic in the olive oil over a moderate heat until soft and translucent, season lightly and add the remaining diced butter.
- Add the rice to the pan and heat through until all grains are hot and become sticky. Turn up the heat and add the wine to the rice and stir until evaporated. Then add 1 cup of hot stock, again stirring until absorbed. Lower the heat to moderate.
- Keep adding small quantities of stock until rice is cooked. This will take approx. 15 minutes from adding 1st cup of wine. The rice should be al dente and not too runny.
- Turn off heat and add the diced butter, fresh truffle and parmesan mixture, and quickly beat into the risotto until you get a creamy finish. (creamy with no cream is the exact consistency)
- Naturally the rice will keep absorbing liquid so it is important to let it rest for a minute or so before serving. This will allow you to add a touch more hot stock if needed.
- Plate up the risotto. Shave the remaining fresh truffles over the individual portions at the table to ensure that you maximise the experience of the fresh truffle aroma.
Urban Truffle have been incredibly generous and are giving one lucky reader the chance to win a luxury risotto experience of their own, with their Ultimate Risotto Masterclass Hamper worth £155. The hamper which is pictured above, includes:
50g Fresh seasonal truffle, 1kg Superior grade arborio rice, 100g, 30 month aged Parmesan cheese, Rosewood handle truffle slicer, 50g Fresh garlic, 100g Shallots, 750ml Barolo 2009 Ciabot Berton, 187ml Savignon Blanc, 160g Truffle butter, 250ml Oro del Desierto Organic Olive Oil, 90g Fleur de Sel, I’lle de Ré 80g Penja black peppercorns, 120g Truffle honey
All you have to do is log in via the form below and make sure you leave a comment telling me – what is your favourite luxury gourmet food treat or what would you most like to try? – in the comments section of the post. There are also additional chances to win by following Cygnet Kitchen on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest via the form below (don’t worry if you are already following, you can still get the extra entries by clicking the button!). Don’t forget to sign up for Cygnet Kitchen’s newsletter for recipes and future giveaways. The winner will be picked by Random Number Generator when the giveaway ends and midnight GMT on Thursday 22nd September 2016 and is open to everyone over the age of 18 worldwide. Terms and conditions apply.
The winner of my giveaway was Andrew B! Congratulations to Andrew and thank you to everyone who entered.