This is the first installment of the Idiazabal series. Antxon the Idiazabal cheese is happily chilling in my fridge, and I’m slowly nibbling away at this amazing product of cheese making. I don’t know how you feel about risotto, but for me it’s the epitome of comfort food. It’s warming and creamy, and best enjoyed with a glass of white wine. I always drink the same wine I use to cook the risotto, so it shouldn’t be a cheap cooking wine. Go for something nice and dry. This time, to complement Antxon’s heritage, I used a white Rioja. If you want to be even more authentic (i.e. Basque), you could try making this with Txakoli, but I didn’t have any handy. If anyone does it, I’d be delighted to hear about your experience! This risotto turned out to be absolute perfection. I was hungry. The risotto was cheesy. What else could you possibly ask for?
Ingredients (1 portion*)
- 75g risotto rice
- 5-6 medium-sized mushrooms (Baso-Etxea suggests porcino mushrooms, but they didn’t have any at the supermarket so I ended up using dark champignons, which taste a little nuttier than their white cousins)
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- white wine
- about 300ml of vegetable stock (I like to have a bit more handy, in case the risotto needs it. This always depends on how much water your mushrooms contribute)
- 1 knob of butter
- a roughly 1cm thick slice of Idiazabal cheese
- olive oil
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat a very healthy dash of olive oil (about 2 tbsp.). Dice the onion and start sautéing it in the pan. Mince/squeeze the garlic and add. Once the onion is nice and transparent, crank up the heat and add the rice. Fry for about three minutes until it is transparent around the edges – make sure you stir it all the time. Turn down the heat and add a healthy dash of white wine. How much you use depends on how “drunk” you want your risotto to be. I usually add another small dash right at the end. Once the rice has soaked up the wine, start adding the vegetable stock ladle by ladle, “massaging” the risotto in a figure-of-eight movement. Always add one ladle, then stir, wait until the liquid is almost gone before adding the next ladle, stirring every once in a while so it doesn’t stick. At this point, you may also pour yourself a first glass of wine, it helps the ladling-stirring-waiting procedure along nicely.
While you do this, dice the mushrooms (about 1.5 x 1.5cm). After about 10 minutes of cooking the rice, add the mushrooms just after adding some of the stock. The mushrooms will give off quite a lot of water themselves, so be careful not to add too much stock at this point. Keep up the ladling procedure until the rice is cooked al dente (in total, this will probably take about 15-20 minutes). At the last turn of adding liquid, I like to use some wine again to give it more flavour.
While the rice is cooking away, grate the Idiazabal cheese. Idiazabal isn’t a cheese that melts very quickly, so you should definitely grate it rather than cutting it up into small pieces. Once the rice is done, turn off the heat and add the knob of butter and the grated cheese. Stir well and take off the hob. Try the risotto to see if it needs some salt (it probably won’t). Cover and let the risotto sit for 5 minutes. At this point, try to ignore the fact that by now you’re probably close to starvation. I can only implore you to be patient – this step makes all the difference. In the meantime, pour yourself another glass of wine to go with your risotto. Enjoy!
*Risotto does not reheat well. Always make it from scratch.