I decided to make a risotto last night to use up the chicken stock and a few leftover bits of chicken. As already reported the stock had (accidentally) been in the Aga simmering oven for 40 hours so the risotto needed to be an intensely flavoured one. I added a few mushrooms but, more importantly, a teaspoon of poudre de ceps, a magic ingredient I bought at a French service station a year or so ago. It wasn’t that expensive - about 5 or 6 euros but makes ordinary mushrooms taste like ceps. You can buy a similar product in the UK with the appalling name of Shake-O-Cini.
The recipe, which tastes considerably more appetising than the rather murky picture above might suggest, is below but one tip. When you’re making a risotto with cooked chicken don’t add it at the beginning or it’ll go squelchy (to use a technical cooking term). I find it better to fry it up separately with the mushrooms then add it a minute or two from the end of the risotto cooking time.
1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic (optional)
150g arborio or other authentic Italian risotto rice
1/2 a glass (about 75ml) dry white wine
500ml chicken stock
150g cooked chicken, skinned and cut into chunks
125g button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 tsp poudre de ceps or Shake-O-Cini porcini powder
3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan plus a few shavings for serving
Salt and pepper
Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large saucepan, add the chopped onion and cook gently until soft (about 5 minutes) Add the garlic if using, stir well turn the heat up a little and cook for a couple of minutes. Tip in the rice, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the grains have turned opaque and are beginning to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, stir and let it bubble up and evaporate. Meanwhile heat the stock until boiling and keep at a simmer. Start adding cups or ladlefuls of stock every time the liquid in the risotto gets absorbed and stir occasionally until it starts to look creamy and the rice tastes neither hard and chalky nor soggy. (This should take about 20 minutes. You might not need all the stock)
While you're doing this heat the oil and remaining butter in a frying pan and fry the chicken for a couple of minutes then add the sliced mushrooms and cook over a low heat until they begin to colour. Tip the chicken and mushrooms into the risotto with the last addition of stock and heat through. Turn the heat off then add cep or porcini powder, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan and let the flavours amalgamate for 2-3 minutes then spoon the risotto into warm bowls. Decorate with a few fine shavings of parmesan.
By the way, the poudre de ceps is also useful for boosting the flavour of a steak sauce, beef stew or gravy