1.2 litres (2 pints) boiling ham or vegetable stock
15 g (1/2 oz) dried porcini mushrooms or mixed dried mushrooms (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
200 g (7 oz) mushrooms, chopped
350 g (11 1/2 oz) risotto rice
125 ml (4 fl oz) dry white wine
200 g (7 oz) piece of cooked ham off the bone, chopped
125 g (4 oz) mascarpone or cream cheese
salt and pepper
finely grated Parmesan-style cheese, to serve (optional)
Pour the stock into a saucepan, add the dried mushrooms, if using, cover and simmer very gently for 8–10 minutes. If not using the dried mushrooms, pour the stock into the pan and keep at a gentle simmer.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 4–5 minutes, then add the chopped mushrooms and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, until softened. Add the rice and stir for a minute, until the grains are coated and translucent. Pour in the wine and simmer rapidly, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed. Meanwhile, strain the dried mushrooms, if using, set aside and return the stock to the pan.
Add the hot stock to the rice, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly at a gentle simmer until each ladleful has been absorbed. Repeat this process until all of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is al dente. This should take 17 minutes.
Chop the dried mushrooms, if using, and stir into the risotto with the ham and mascarpone and season generously. Stir to warm through, then remove from the heat, cover with a lid and set aside to rest for 2–3 minutes. Spoon the risotto into bowls, and serve with a little grated cheese, if desired.