Mushroom Pesto Risotto & Blue Cheese Croquettes Recipe by Chef Fiachra Kenny of Juniors Restaurant

Ingredients:

Risotto Rice

Olive Oil or Rapeseed Oil
1 Small White Onion diced
2 Cloves Garlic Minced
1 Sprig of Thyme
150g Arborio Risotto Rice
100 ml White Wine
1l Chicken or Vegetable Stock
30g Dried Cep or Porcini Mushrooms
Flat Parsley Roughly Chopped

For the Mantecatura

75g Cold, Diced Butter
½ -1 Cup Grated Parmesan (roughly 75g- 100g)

Mushroom Pesto

4 -6 Portobello Mushrooms with tops peeled (the peelings can be added to the chicken stock to flavour the stock) 
½-1 Cup of grated Parmesan (roughly 75g-100g)
50g Pine nuts
1 tsp of Truffle Oil
1 tbsp of Sherry Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Blue Cheese Croquettes

200g Blue Cheese
100g Plain Flour for dusting
100ml milk
2 eggs
Panko Bread crumbs

Method:

Blue Cheese Croquettes

Use a good quality blue cheese – in the restaurant I would use Boyne Valley Blue or Young Buck Blue. You can also use Cashel Blue or Crozier Blue, which are easier to find in the supermarket. 

Break the blue cheese into pieces and place in a food processor

Pulse the cheese until it breaks up and whips back into a looser and more pliable mix

Remove from the food processor and with wet hands or wearing gloves roll the cheese mix into small balls, weighing roughly 25g .

If the cheese is too soft at this stage, chill in fridge or freezer until holds its shape.

Coating the croquettes:

The trick to coating the croquettes is to keep one hand for touching the dry stages and one hand for touching the wet stages.

Add eggs to milk and whisk gently to mix together

Place flour in one bowl, egg & milk mix in a second bowl, panko bread crumbs in a third bowl 

Place the cheese balls into the flour bowl and coat them.

Remove balls one by one, shaking the excess flour back into the flour bowl

Place them into the egg & milk bowl

Remove balls one by one, shaking the excess egg & milk mix back into its bowl.

Place into breadcrumbs bowl and roll gently to coat

Then remove from the bowl and place on a plate to be chilled until needed, then deep fried at 180°C until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Mushroom Pesto 

Pre heat oven to 190°C

Peel Portobello Mushrooms

Heat oil in an oven-safe pan and add mushrooms when oil is hot

Cook until starting to colour, then add a sprig of thyme and place in heated oven for 10 mins. After 5 mins, place pine nuts on an oven tray in the oven to toast.

Remove mushrooms and pine nuts, allow to cool

Place mushrooms and pine nuts in a food processor with the grated parmesan, truffle oil and sherry vinegar and pulse until reaches pesto consistency.

Risotto Rice

The key to getting the risotto right is to add hot stock to the roasting rice and massage the starch out by continuously stirring the rice as you mix it with a wooden spoon or spatula. It’s not a case of leaving it to boil. The starch will stick and burn otherwise. Using metal utensils will break the grains of rice so a wooden spoon is recommended. 

Put stock in a large pot and add dried ceps or porcini, heat gently to infuse and rehydrate mushrooms. Keep this on a low heat while you start cooking the rice.

Heat a good drop of olive oil or rapeseed oil in a separate large pot over medium heat. (My favourite olive oil is the Arbequina from Lilliput Stores, but I would often use a good quality rapeseed oil for cooking as it doesn’t have as strong a flavour as olive oil)

Cook onions, garlic and thyme in the oil until soft but without colour. Add a nice pinch of salt to onions to help soften them and stop the caramelising.

Add risotto rice, stir and cook until the grains are slightly translucent on the outside.

Add in the white wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

Gradually add your warm stock to the rice one ladle at a time, adding only the liquid – if needed pour through a sieve to remove the mushrooms. Gently and continuously stir the rice to help release the starch, and making sure the liquid is almost fully absorbed before adding the next ladle. Do this for around 12 mins of cooking, however it may take longer (up to 15-17 mins). 

**Taste the rice after 9 mins or so to see if cooked, it should have a slight bite, but not too much that it is unpleasant in texture.**

If the stock runs out before rice is cooked, you can continue to cook by adding water to the risotto.

Finishing

To complete the dish, add roughly 2 tbsp of the mushroom pesto per person to the rice and mix. (You can add more – it’s entirely to your taste. The pesto will keep for 3 days and is a good accompaniment to steak or as a bruschetta topping.)

Next mix in the flat parsley and Mantecatura ofbutter and parmesan. If needed, season to taste with salt / pepper.

To serve, place in bowls, garnish with the crispy deep-fried blue cheese croquettes, and top with a quenelle of pesto.

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