Posted by: mikeydude | January 31, 2010

Creamy Mushroom Risotto & Roast Shoulder of Pork

Simple Rustic Pleasure

As I’ve mentioned before risottos are difficult to get absolutely right, as you can never just leave it on the hob without stirring. It involves a style of cooking rice different to conventional chinese methods as you actively encourage fluid to seep in and cook the rice ladle by ladle. I decided to serve it with a cheap shoulder of pork I bought from Tesco the day before but obviously outdoor reared would have made it much much nicer. However I wasn’t particularly in the mood for splashing out on expensive produce the day after my week long night shifts ended as my peristalsis was pretty much switched off during the day! Anyway here’s what I ended up with…

This is a Jamie recipe involving the technique of integrating the aromas of dried porcini mushrooms into the chicken stock and rice to produce a wonderful earthy risotto. I’ve attempted this dish a few times previously but always found that Parmesan cheese overwhelms the subtle mushroom flavours probably because of adding too much. In any case I decided to leave out the cheese this time round.

I think the essential ingredients here are the quality of the chicken stock and obviously the porcini (aka ceps) mushrooms. The chicken stock I made the night before by boiling chicken carcasses, leeks, celery, carrots, thyme, garlic, and salt for 3 hours. This produces an excellent stock which forms the backbone of many of my favourite dishes. An additional advantage is that the filtered bones and vegetables make a meal in itself which means zero wastage (delicious with plain white rice and good quality soy sauce!). Anyway I ended up with 3L of stock; half of which was used to make this risotto, and the other half will be used to make paella at a later date. The mushrooms I bought previously from Italy when I went there back in 2007 for an excellent romantic honeymoon. However since returning I have found these available in most supermarkets as the population has become more aware of International cuisine.

Anyway the procedure is simple. Slow saute onion and celery in a large saucepan until soft before adding the risotto rice. You then infuse the rice with white wine and the dried porcini broth (pre-cooking boiling water soak of the dried porcini mushrooms to soften). Once all evaporated the hard work begins! The chicken stock should have been simmering away in a separate saucepan and you add the stock ladle by ladle waiting for each scoop to be absorbed by the rice before continuing. Of course don’t forget the seasoning! As you can imagine the rice swells and gets harder and harder to stir throughout the cooking process which takes around 20 minutes for the amount I made (around 400g rice). The most important element technique wise is to never stop stirring!!! Another important tip is to stir in a wad of good quality butter after cooking and then covering the pan and letting the risotto rest before serving for a few minutes.

I would taste the rice intermittently throughout so that it would become apparent when the rice is cooked to the way I like it (nice, soft and creamy). I actually ended up with a tiny bit of stock left over which I used to boil my carrot batons.

In a separate pan I dry fried some sliced chestnut mushrooms before combining them in a bowl with chopped fresh parsley, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. These acted excellently as a garnish/extra presentation.

As for the pork. This was simple. Tesco had already scored the skin (awfully might I add) and so I couldn’t really do it myself. Normally I would do it in a criss-cross pattern as finely as my knife would allow for excellent crackling. This was done linearly and fairly wide spaced. Luckily it was a cheap joint costing me around £3 for 700g. First came the searing which involved initially searing the skin side on a hot dry pan before the rest. This pork was way too lean as normally doing this would release lots of fat to help sear the rest of the joint. After searing it was simply a matter of seasoning and roasting in a 200C oven for 30 minutes before another 30 mins at 180C. I deliberately overcooked the pork on this occasion for reasons that I cannot divulge at present 😀

The overall result? Hmmm.. I would say that this risotto was the best attempt I’ve made to date. Still far from perfect but I could definitely appreciate the earthy mushroom flavours and the texture of the rice was almost spot on. Of course we could not finish such a large amount and so 3 portions could be kept in the freezer for eating at a later date. I definitely didn’t really miss the parmesan! The pork shoulder despite being overdone was still not too bad. The skin was semi crackly due to poor scoring but luckily the fat inside the shoulder joint inside was enough to baste the meat. Surprisingly I preferred it to the shoulder that I tried in London’s acclaimed Hereford Road Restaurant! Anyway next time I will buy some proper pork and do the better job. I guess the risotto was my main focus of this meal.

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