Porcini Mushrooms and Chocolate Risotto

by thomandaimee

There might be an overdose of chocolate on this blog, but this is the last one, we promise. Unless the cravings strike again. We can never get enough of the delicious stuff, chocolate is simply our-go-to candy. But this time, it appears in a more savoury fashion with porcini mushrooms and delicate risotto rice.

When Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory was showing on cable, N and I used to catch it quite regularly. If anything, other than being intrigued by the works of chocolate business, the show made us strangely depressed. It was like watching Wallander – the grey palette, the slow-paced direction, the slight melancholy in the music, and the too-calm voice droning over the programme. Though the problems William faced that got us feeling slightly underwhelmed at times, we were always tempted to try one of his cocoa products.

This issue just gave us an excuse to ship some of his luscious chocolate over, and receiving the beautifully packaged cylinders felt almost like Charlie getting his golden ticket. It’s interesting to know that the concept of terroir comes in here as well. (Yes, I’m still in my cheese fairy land.) Where the cocoa beans were grown affects how the end product would taste; like coffee, wine, cheese, tea and even milk. Both the Madagascan Black (Sambirano Cacao) and Venezuelan Black (Rio Caribe Cacao) that we bought had different notes, resulting in varying degrees of cocoa-ness, if I could put it that way.

Porcini mushrooms have a very strong nutty flavour, and this risotto dish features the woodiness really well. In fact, the mushrooms were a little too overpowering and the chocolate was almost negligent. To give it more balance, we added more of Willie’s Venezuelan Black cacao, resulting in a stickier consistency and deep earthy colouring. The chocolate finally came through subtly, dancing with the richness of the porcini. With a medley of flavours punching through, this is a dish best eaten as an entrée and in small portions.

Porcini Mushrooms and Chocolate Risotto
Adapted from Willie Harcourt-Cooze, Willie’s Chocolate Bible

Serves 4

100g dried porcini mushrooms
4 to 5 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
25g butter
250g Arborio rice
1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoon finely grated 100% cacao
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Thyme, to serve (optional)

Directions

Place the porcini mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry over a gentle heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the butter until melted, then stir in the rice. Make sure the rice is coated with the butter. Cook until you see the rice turn translucent at the edges.

Tip in the porcini, along with their soaking liquid, but without the residual sediments. Bring to a gently simmer, stirring continuously until all the soaking liquid has been absorbed. Add a ladleful of hot stock and continue to simmer, stirring frequently until the liquid has again been absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the stock and stirring this way, until the rice is plump and tender.

Finally stir in the cacao, season with salt and black pepper to taste. And serve with grated Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

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