I love a good risotto, not only is it delicious but it is one of my very favorite ways to use up produce. Risotto is pure Italian comfort food – a bowl of creamy short-grain rice with layers of flavors built from wine, onions, stock, Parmesan cheese, and butter.
Mushrooms tend to be a polarizing food. You either love or hate them. I’m a fungi lover so this is a natural pairing for me. If, however, you can’t do mushrooms, the very notion of this recipe is probably your nightmare. Maybe don’t read past this point.
To really layer in the mushroom flavor, I use several methods for creating as much flavor as possible.
- Dried Mushrooms: soak in 1 cup of boiling water for about 30 minutes then strain. Dice the re-hydrated mushrooms and add them in after the wine, allowing them to cook along with the risotto.
- Mushroom stock: Use the strained liquid from the dried mushrooms with the cooking stock.
- Sauteed Mushrooms: I use a mix of types, roughly diced so that some pieces are small and others are larger. This allows for great texture diversity in the dish and really highlights the mushrooms over the uniform rice.
- Optional: A sprinkle of my favorite Magic Mushroom Powder – if you have this ingredient, be careful about jointly seasoning with salt so you don’t end up blowing this up with salt.
The key to risotto is an insane prep. I use a million little bowls and measuring cups to have each ingredient ready in an assembly line so that when you start cooking and stirring the rice, you don’t need to worry about anything else. Unless your kids are running with scissors, plant yourself at the stove (preferably with a nice beverage) and stir away!
My 2nd best risotto tip is to roll with it and use your head. Sometimes three and a half cups of liquid works, sometimes you’ll need four or more. Be prepared – I always have extra set aside just in case. In my opinion, you can really “eyeball” risotto and not be uptight about the exact number of tablespoons of butter, measurements for the cheese, etc. Test the rice as you cook it. This sounds really simple but rather than set a timer and say “my rice will be done in 25 minutes no matter what,” taste individual grains as you go and use this to really know when its cooked. Season along the way so you can control the saltiness – keep this in mind especially because you’re adding a saltier cheese at the end, which can really change the balance. If you taste as you go and pay attention, you’ll end up making something much more delicious than if you don’t learn how to recognize when your rice needs more liquid, more time, more or less heat, etc.
Make a choice: use two pots and cook the mushrooms and risotto simultaneously, or use one pot and cook the mushrooms first, set them aside, then proceed to cook the rice. The first method is the fastest but also you have to really pay attention to two pans (read: I tend to get kind of insane doing this especially if there’s ANY distraction), the 2nd is the neatest (one dish only to wash!) but takes an extra 15 minutes.
Fall Mushroom Risotto
- 12 oz fresh mushrooms
- 1/2 to 1 oz dried mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water
- 1.5 cups arborio rice
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cups beef stock, warmed (I put mine in a 4 cup container and throw it in the microwave to warm)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1.5 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 3-4 TBS butter
Soak dried mushrooms in a cup of water for 20-30 minutes, then strain the liquid and add to the 3 cups of stock. Dice the rehydrated mushrooms and set aside.
For the mushrooms: In a large pan, lightly oil the pan and bring to medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and allow them to release all liquid, stirring every few minutes, approx 10 minutes.
Add a little butter, the Herbes de Provence, a splash of the wine, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
For the rice: In a heavy, large pot or pan, over medium high heat, add 1-2 TBS olive oil.
Saute the onions for a few minutes, stirring to prevent any sticking or burning.
Once the onions start to take color, add the arborio rice to toast, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Pour in the wine, stirring, once the liquid is evaporating and being absorbed, add in the rehydrated mushrooms.
Start adding 1/2 cup increments of the stock, stirring until each amount is almost absorbed before adding more.
When you're down to the last increment of stock, add the sauteed mushrooms and the final amount of liquid and cook for a few minutes to finish.
Turning off the heat, add the cream, 3 TBS butter, 1 cup of Parmesan, stir and put a lid on the dish.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then taste for seasoning.
Serve with extra cheese and chives.
If you cook the mushrooms and rice simultaneously in separate pans, you can cook this in 30 minutes. If you cook the mushrooms first, they'll take about 15 minutes, followed by 25-30 minutes of rice cooking for a total cook time of about 45 minutes. Serves four for a larger main serving, or six as a side.