Mushroom Risotto is one of those must-have recipes in your cookbook, it is so simple to make yet so technical, and always flavoursome, sure to impress any guests.
Learning to make basic Risotto is the key to transforming this dish to a mouth-watering year-round recipe you can pull together with few ingredients from your fridge, starting with the simple Mushroom Risotto you can twist this recipe as you wish like adding different types of Mushrooms or changing this to a Vegetable Risotto with the addition of few other veggies.
Looking back at my first Risotto, it was one of those disaster dishes you convince yourself are well enough to eat, well until you discover there’s a better way and there’s the right way.
When I visited Italy for the first time in the year 2009 with my husband to visit his family, I realised I was doing it all bad, we enjoyed Risotto in Roma that was far from what I made at home (using canned mushrooms and cooking until it was “well cook” = mushy), we ate Risotto in Venezia and in Rimini and then I tasted the best Risotto ever, in Campora Saint Giovanni, a small town in Reggio Calabria where my husband’s family is from, even until now I have not tasted a better Risotto than this, a Risotto Pescatore made in Il Vecchio Mulino, back then it was my husband’s Auntie Restaurant and it was like made in heaven.
I didn’t get a Master Class then, but I walked into that kitchen, and what I noticed was they use the best local ingredients and they used everything fresh. Extra virgin olive oil pressed by themselves, vegetables grown in their gardens, and even locally produced wine, high-quality ingredients only have to end in one result, the best food ever.
Mushroom Risotto done right will please any crowd, as an Entree, or side dish pairing really well with any red meat. In Italy Risotto is served as a primo piato which is a not so small Entree prior to the Main. I prefer having it as a Main with a side salad.
Although eating Mushroom Risotto the next day is not my favourite thing to do, as I consider the particular consistency of Risotto is best enjoyed freshly made, I always try to have leftovers as you can make delicious Arancini Balls with day-old Risotto, my kids absolutely love homemade Arancini balls and they are also easy to make.
What is Risotto?
Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made by cooking rice in broth or liquid until it reaches a creamy consistency thanks to the high starch content in the specific rice used for this preparation, short-grain rice is normally used to make risotto, being the most popular rice types used Arborio and Carnaroli, these types of rice can absorb 6 times their weight in liquid, therefore, making them ideal for Risotto. It is said to be a dish from northern Italy however I believe it is found all around Italy.
Mushroom Risotto or Risotto ai Funghi, as it is called in Italy, is simple to make, the key is in the quality of the ingredients and the technique, so you can have the creamiest Risotto every time, once you master this you will be cooking all different types of Risotto and even creating your own.
Ingredients to make Mushroom Risotto
Always ensure you get fresh and good quality ingredients for the Risotto.
Simple Olive oil and Onion! However some chefs tend to use a mixture of oil and butter in this step. Other elements you can add or substitute your soffritto can be celery, spring onions, chives, or leek. Cut these in very small pieces as this will result in a more refined Risotto.
Which wine? I would say buy a good wine not something overly expensive but cooking wine is a no no for me here, recommended wines for Risotto are Semi dry and Dry Wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, avoid sweet wines here, Red Wine can be use for colourful risottos such as Risotto al pomodoro and Beetroot Risottos.
BROTH / STOCK
Prepare your own stock if possible, if not, buy a good quality stock or stock cubes that are low in salt. For Mushroom Risotto I suggest using vegetable stock, to keep it vegetarian but if you wish to add and extra dimension sub this for chicken stock. Make more than enough stock about 3 L of stock if you are cooking for 4 people. You must keep the stock warm while cooking the risotto so the temperature of the Risotto doesn’t drop when adding the stock.
Basic Vegetable stock : Carrot, Celery, Onion, Leeks, Garlic and water and cook for 1-2 hrs.
I like using white button mushrooms because I let the mushrooms cook together with the rice, also white button mushrooms don’t go extremely dark when cooking “staining the risotto”, they keep their shape for longer, although some people might consider they are not as tasty as other varieties, these are the best for kids as well.
You can use your preferred mushrooms, or a combination of them, to avoid the staining, sautee the mushrooms before starting the risotto to kind of blanch them and avoid them from adding too much brown liquid to the risotto, reserve the mushroom, and add mushroom liquid to the stock and cooked mushrooms before the mantecatura, reserve some for garnish. Avoid slicing them too thinly or they will disappear as you cook them.
As I mentioned before use Arborio or Carnaroli, avoid using long grain rice such as Basmati or Jasmine as they won’t give you the same result. The rice must not be rinse as this will strip the starch we need to make the risotto creamy. The ratio of Rice to liquid depends on the rice and it can be 3-4 cups of water/stock per every 100g of rice. I strongly recommend finding the appropriate rice for Risotto.
I’ll go for Parmigiano Reggiano, (the best quality parmesan), is best to buy the block and grate it before using it, you can alternatively use Granna Padano which is less mature but it has a very delicate taste that does well with Risotto.
Step by Step Mushroom Risotto
Tips to make Mushroom Risotto
- Use a heavy-based pan or pot which will distribute heat evenly avoiding the Risotto from catching on the bottom,
- Cook Risotto on medium heat.
- Avoid the risotto to dry too much while cooking.
- Once you feel the risotto is on the right consistency “al dente”, add an extra ladleful of stock to keep it from drying the risotto must be on the runny side, the rice will continue soaking and cooking after it’s removed from the heat.
- Cook for a least 15-20 min while adding stock to ensure it cooks through, you can check the rice as it becomes transparent towards the centre while it cooks.
- Add salt at last only if needed.
Mushroom RisottoCourse: Entree, MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
Creamy and hearty mushroom risotto that will have you coming for seconds.
2 Tbsp virgin olive oil
1/2 c white wine
8 c vegetable stock
160g button mushrooms (about 12)
180g Arborio or Carnaroli rice (90g per person)
100g Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano)
100g unsalted butter
Parsley for garnish (finely chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
- Prep: Finely diced the onion. Sliced the mushrooms. Finely chop the parsley.
- In a heavy bottom pan heat olive oil and add the onion and cook for about 4-5 min until translucent.
- Add the rice to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes to toast the rice until you see the rice starts to slightly colour.
- Add wine to deglaze the pan and start hydrating the rice, cook for a couple of minutes until wine evaporates.
- Start adding the stock one ladle at a time allowing for the rice to soak part of it, moving the pan to avoid the rice from catching on the bottom and removing with a wooden spoon every now and then.
- When half of this liquid has been soaked add the following ladle of stock and continue cooking, as the rice cooks the absorption of the stock will be slower. Add the mushrooms once you’ve cooked the rice for about 10 min.
- Cook for about 10-15 min stirring now and then and adding more liquid as it cooks and checking for doneness, rice must be cooked until just al dente.
- Once cooked turn off the heat, add butter and parmigiano, and let rest with a lid on for 5 min. Open back and stir in the rice to incorporate the cheese and butter.
- Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Risotto is best enjoyed straight after cooking.