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Mushroom and Kabana Risotto

This post is sponsored by DON.

I was having a conversation with a friend today about the nature of some people. We were discussing the life of a man that has done the same thing, every day like clockwork, for the last 60+ years. The topic of our conversation gets up in the morning, goes to the same place he has worked for 60 years, comes home for lunch, goes back to work following lunch, then comes home after work. And repeats this every week day. Is it strange that some part of me craves this kind of habit, this kind of simplicity that comes with repetitive behaviour (and not stepping out of the norm)? 

If you’ve been coming here for awhile you may remember my huge leap I took two years ago. I worked full time for 23 years, half of it as a mother. I was dead exhausted. I was resentful and hated the fact that work ruled my life, and my child and family came second. I hated that I couldn’t be there before and after school each day, and don’t even mention full time daycare in the toddler years. It near killed me (the guilt still does). But sometimes, we just have to do what is necessary to be able to provide for our family and put a roof over their heads. I know I was privileged, we weren’t sleeping on the street. But in all honesty the guilt did eat at me.

So two years ago I decided I was going to reduce to part time employment and take a leap into the very unknown world of freelancing. I can’t even begin to tell you how very fortunate I have been. Work has presented itself in ways I never thought possible, and it is work done in my time, to suit me and my priority – my family. I can’t be happier. The monotony of punching in at 9am every day to finish at 5pm, head home to prepare dinner, get ready for the next day, sleep, get up, jump on that damn treadmill again like a rat in a cage stuck in a lab slowly killed something inside of me. I craved creativity, I craved freedom.

And now, I have it.

So as I heard this story about the man who gets up every day and does the same thing, and has done for 60+ years, I had a strange feeling of envy. But it wasn’t due to the monotonous nature of his life, it was the simplicity that got me feeling warm and fuzzy. In our ever busy world it’s so easy to get caught up in events and outings, catching up with this friend and that, appointments, chores, and then throw in life’s curveballs (and we all cop them) plus a job, it’s no wonder as I get older I have this little dream of someday just packing up a suitcase with my bare essentials and moving onto a farm far, far from civilisation as I know it (the city) to just ‘be’. I am by nature a creature of habit, and it’s no wonder I just love being at home working in my own space, solo, because I quite simply like my own company. And as I am now doing what actually makes my soul scream out with joy, I feel my life slowly moving towards that simplicity I used to only dream about. 

As a creature of habit I tend to stick to similar dishes in my lunch and dinner repertoire, and risotto is a regular in my kitchen. I have this fabulous rice cooker that cooks risotto quite literally at the push of a button, but I have written this recipe as if you’re using a pot. It’s tried and tested, I’ve made it on the stove many, many times. Risotto is one my favourite weekend lunches, I love that you can mix it up with different ingredients. Mushrooms always make an appearance in mine. 

Mushroom Risotto with Kabana

Ingredients // serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

200g DON Kabana, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped

300g cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 cups arborio

3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

60g Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Salt and black pepper

1/2 lemon

Fresh parsley for garnish

Method:

Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add kabana and sauté for a couple of minutes until brown and crispy on the edges. Remove from pan.

Add garlic, thyme and mushrooms to pan, sauté until aromatic. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add rice to pan and toast for a few minutes until heated through.

Add stock and wine, gently stir, cover, then allow to simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until stock is completely absorbed. Rice should be al dente so the only way to know if it is perfect is to taste it. If it is crunchy or too firm, add some more hot stock, stir and allow to cook a little longer. Risotto should not be gluggy.

Take off heat, add Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well. Add mushrooms and kabana, season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon, and top with parsley.

Same time next week?

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