To get a really earthy, musty taste the truffle oil is essential – the heat of the risotto causes wafts of wonderful truffle scent titillating the senses of the anticipating eater. You can use ordinary dried porcini mushrooms, or you can use trumpets of the dead. If you use those, you can play anything by stunning trumpeter Alison Balsom – I still like one of her first albums, Caprice, best – to ensure you enjoy your time in the kitchen. For a flavour of how she can really belt out a tune watch the youtube clip below.

You can add to the earthy spookiness of the trumpets of the dead by seasoning with the enticingly evil black isot pepper, and substituting the Parmesan for blue cheese. Why does the blue cheese go so well with the mushrooms? Because the blue hue of blue cheese is due to the presence of fungi – which echo many of the same flavour compounds as mushrooms.

For more tips and information on making risotto follow this link.

This is very rich, especially if you use gravy rather than stock, so serve with a crisp, fresh green salad – try fresh Titanic salad.

If you have any leftover risotto, you can make simple arancini (post to come).


Recipe for earthy, spooky, mushroom risotto

Top with blue cheese rather than parmesan – it’s even better.

for four

  • 200g/1 cup carnaroli risotto rice
  • 1 litre/5 cups of stock made with three chicken stock cubes – or you can use leftover gravy.
  • 30g porcini mushrooms – in an ideal world soaked in milk for about an hour – trumpets of the dead if you can find them.
  • 500g mushrooms
  • about a foot of Italian sausage, or three British sausages (leave out if you are a vegetarian, obviously)
  • 1 large wine glass½ cup of martini rosato
  • 50g chopped parsley, including most of the stalks
  • 2 tbsp truffle oil (the stuff made by infusing real truffles)
  • olive oil – about two tbsp.
  • butter – about 100g – several ‘knobs’. cut it into cubes and keep in the fridge or freezer
  • 2 cups of parmesan or, even better if you have it, substitute half a cup of parmesan for some crumbled blue cheese (leftover in your fridge is fine) to sprinkle over at the end.
  • 1 onion – peeled and chopped small
  • smoked salt – but go easy on this, TASTE FIRST, because both stock and parmesan can be very salty.
  • pepper – ideally if you have it the beguilingly chocolately isot pepper (which, of course, isn’t really pepper) or the earthy Indonesian long pepper.


  1. in a good solid Le Creusset-type saucepan fry the sausage hard in the olive oil to get it really caramelised, add the chopped onion, fry for two or three minutes
  2. add the rice, fry for about three minutes more
  3. chop the porcini and add to the saucepan
  4. add a wine glass of rosato vermouth and stir until absorbed
  5. add the stock – about half a cup at a time
  6. meanwhile, peel and chop the mushrooms
  7. about two-thirds of the stock in, add the mushrooms
  8. snip most of the parsley in, including most of the stems, but reserving some for garnish
  9. when all the liquid is absorbed take the saucepan off the heat and cover. leave for a couple of minutes
  10. stir in the butter and the parmesan
  11. serve with two teasp of truffle oil on the top of each serving and some chopped parsley


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