My husband is very traditional. He loves the holidays, family reunions and anything that brings people together around a large table filled with food. This weekend we began reminiscing about our childhoods, and our memories of Sunday dinners. He told me he longed for the days at his granparents’ house, with Glen Miller on the turntable and pot roast in the oven. The table was always set when he and his brothers arrived and each place was marked with a small glass of tomato juice and a bowl of pickles. The smile on my husband’s face as he recalled these memories solidified my plan. We were bringing back the Sunday Night Dinner. Even though our family unit maybe small, and we rarely see grandparents on Sunday evenings, there’s no reason our son can’t grow up with the same happy memories his father did. Although I think I draw the line at tomato juice. So instead, we began with a simple mushroom risotto, Jamie Oliver style, warm bread and homemade humus and Glenn Miller on the stereo. I’m sure Chris’ grandparents would approve.
What’s In It
6 ½ cups hot veggie stock
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 3/4 cups risotto rice
2/3 cup white wine (although we had to use flat champagne!)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large handfuls of mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
a few sprigs of tarragon, leaves picked and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp butter
2 nice handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
extra virgin olive oil
How to Make It
Heat your stock in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer.
In a large pan, heat a glug of olive oil and add the onion and celery. Slowly sauté on low heat for 10 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the rice. Give it a stir. Stir in the wine and keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Add a good pinch of salt and your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, get a dry griddle pan hot and grill the wild mushrooms until soft. If your pan isn’t big enough, do this in batches. Put them into a bowl and add the chopped herbs, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.
Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to relax for about 3 minutes.
Take your risotto and add a little more seasoning or Parmesan if you like. Serve a good dollop of risotto topped with some grilled dressed mushrooms, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.