Saffron and porcini risotto with parma ham

11 September 2006
Saffron and porcini risotto with parma ham

The inspiration for this autumnal flavour combination comes from the Walnut Tree in Abergavenny rather than anywhere in Italy. Franco Taruschio serves a lasagne-like dish called vincisgrassi that uses the same main flavourings plus white truffle oil.


200g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1tbs chopped onion
1tbs olive oil
100ml white wine
700ml chickenstock
Good pinch saffron
250g porcini/cèpes/boletus - whatthese mushrooms are called rather depends on the shop in which they are bought
Grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
Unsalted butter
4 thin slices Parma ham
Chopped chives


The quantity of stock is variable in risotto. Basically you add stock until the rice is just cooked then stir in cheese and butter. The rate at which the risotto boils will affect the ratio of evaporation to absorption. The rice should still have a touch of resistance without being unpleasantly hard and the risotto will not keep once it is ready to serve. Normally this makes a long delay inevitable. This method will shorten the gap from ordering to service considerably.

Sweat the onion in olive oil for two minutes. Add the rice and continue cooking for two to three minutes.

Add a level teaspoon of salt and the white wine. Let this evaporate. Add 250ml of the stock and bring back to the boil.

Add saffron and switch off the heat - leave the rice to absorb the liquid probably in half-an-hour. It will be quite hard but will take a far shorter time to cook when ordered.

About 15 minutes before you serve the risotto pour on remaining stock and bring back to the boil. Simmer until nearly all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in cheese and butter.

Fry the porcini and add along with Parma ham.

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