The traditional method of making risotto involves the slow addition of warm stock and a lot of stirring over a hot stove to produce a creamy mass of al dente rice. This alternative approach, devised by Delia Smith, saves all that bother and leaves the cook free for other worthwhile activities (like polishing off the Madeira). I have yet to live down the whisky-based experiment in 2009 but please don’t let that put you off trying this: it really is delicious. The adjusted quantities below make it a main course for six, Delia’s original having been intended as a starter.
15g dried porcini mushrooms
340g fresh dark-gilled mushrooms
1 large onion, finely chopped
250g risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
225ml dry Maderia
3 tbsp grated parmesan plus 75g extra, shaved into flakes
Salt and pepper
You will also need a shallow ovenproof dish of 2-2.25 litre capacity
First soak the dried mushrooms: place them in bowl and pour 850ml boiling water over them. Leave to soak and soften for half an hour. Meanwhile, finely chop your onion and cut the fresh mushrooms into about 1 cm chunks.
Preheat the oven to 140 fan.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and let it cook over a gentle heat for about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms, stir well and leave on one side while you deal with the porcini. When they have had their half-hour soak, place a sieve over a bowl, line with a double sheet of kitchen paper or a muslin and strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Squeeze any excess liquid out of them, then chop finely and add to the mushroom-onion mixture in the pan. Keep the heat low and let everything sweat gently and release their juices (about 20 minutes). Put the dish in the oven to warm.
Add the rice, stir to coat well, then add the Madeira, strained mushroom-soaking liquid, 1½ tsp salt and ground black pepper. Bring it up to simmering point, then transfer the whole lot from the pan to the warmed dish. Stir once, then put it uncovered in the oven for 20 minutes exactly.
When the buzzer goes, stir in the grated parmesan and return the dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with shavings of parmesan, and with a green salad alongside.