We recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary and took the opportunity to reminisce about our wedding day. There was all that stress in the preceding 3 months, and the Co-pilot is quick to remind me that I did at times transform into a fire breathing nightmare dragon lady.. But all the stress seemed worthwhile when it all miraculously came together on the day.
There were so many fond food memories from our wedding day but the memory of the risotto station is particularly pertinent. By the early evening on our wedding day we were married, had cut our cheese cake, had supped on canapes, charcuterie and pizzas, drunk plenty and supped again. We were well and truly beyond full and I was rather thankful that the corset of my wedding dress had me tightly trussed like a ham. And then at dusk, the risotto station came to life.
I remember the ARIA Catering chef suddenly emerging from the kitchen and pouring a hot molten stream of thick risotto onto a waiting board fringed with fresh ingredients and watching it puddle into a perfect circle. Our guests too are still fondly remembering it, with one avid foodie friend happily recalling the moment the risotto was served with the sort of reverence usually reserved for more momentous history making occasions: “I was right there when it happened!”, he still exclaims to me.
Despite being horrendously full, I recall it being fragrant, hot and delicious and wishing I weren’t so full, but sadly both the Co-pilot and I could only muster one bowl of the stuff. The legend of the risotto has been a well discussed topic over the last year. Guests that had left our wedding early were sorry they’d missed it and we all wondered what happened to the remaining risotto, not wanting to think any of it had been wasted and still wistfully wishing we’d somehow had the retrospective hindsight to have saved some risotto doggy bags. Could it be that the Co-pilot and I both have glutton’s remorse?
We sorely felt the need to re-create the risotto we wished we’d had more of. I asked the ARIA Catering staff for the recipe, not expecting they’d actually give it to me and to my delight they did! We gathered our family together for the momentous remake of the risotto so we could finally eat our fill of it.
ARIA’s mushroom and asparagus risotto
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
- 3L vegetable stock
- 100 ml olive oil
- 100 g golden shallots diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 500 g risotto rice
- salt and pepper
- 3 bunch asparagus
- 500g mixed mushrooms
- 20 g butter
- 60 ml crème fraiche
- 100 g parmesan, grated
- truffle oil to taste
- 1 bunch continental parsley, chopped
- ½ bunch chives, chopped
- ½ lemon
(Note: for the mushrooms I used a combination of about 400g fresh large portobello mushrooms, cut into large chunky cubes and about 100g of dried morels and porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water and the larger pieces roughly cut)
- Place the vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil, leave to cook for approximately half an hour until the stock has been reduced by half. (If using dried mushrooms like I did, rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water, reserve and strain the mushroom stock and add to the reducing vegetable stock.)
- Finely chop the golden shallots and the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the shallots and garlic for approximately 1-2 minutes until translucent but do not allow to colour. Add all the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes then add the rice and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes, once again do not allow to colour. Add the boiling vegetable stock to the rice mixture, one third at a time, each time stirring until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Each third should take approximately 6 minutes to cook and absorb the liquid so that total cooking time should be around 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- While the rice is cooking blanch the asparagus by placing them in boiling water for approximately one minute and then strain and refresh under cold water. Cut the asparagus spears off the top and chop the lower part into small even pieces. Prepare the other ingredients by grating the parmesan, and finely chopping the chives and parsley. It is always best to pick the parsley leaves off the stalk before chopping as too many stalks can give the parsley a bitter taste.
- Once the risotto is cooked stir butter, parmesan, crème fraiche, the chopped asparagus and herbs through the risotto Season to taste with truffle oil, salt, pepper and squeeze of lemon. Best served in a bowl.
When all the ingredients are added and stirred through, the plumes of truffle oil aroma mixed with sharp Parmesan and earthy mushrooms were so sensually inviting, but presentation wise, it’s hard to make it look a risotto look good. I developed even more appreciation for the impressive presentation of the risotto at our wedding.
And the verdict? My goodness it was delicious.
I was worried that our hazy, endorphin fuelled memories of our wedding day had permanently painted a subjective slick of overzealous positivity over what the risotto was really like. But it lived up to our high expectations. We savoured the flavours carefully, marvelling that although all the ingredients and even the method didn’t seem too out of the ordinary, the result was truly delicious and had us going back for seconds and thirds.
Prior to tasting this risotto, one risotto alone occupied the top rank and blew away all would be competitors – the Co-pilot’s father’s signature dish, his baked mushroom risotto. But there’s a new kid in town and I have to say, this recipe is a strong contender for that top spot.
Many thanks to ARIA Catering for kindly sharing this risotto recipe.