Mushroom Risotto

mushroom risotto

I don't care what anyone says, you can't make risotto in less than 30 minutes. It just isn't possible, though many have tried. Some people claim that cooking the rice without stirring produces the same result. Others of the experimental cuisine echelon make risotto in mere minutes with the help of an immersion circulator. But true, creamy risotto does take anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes.

The process of continual stirring brings out the rice's natural starch to produce that characteristic creamy yet toothsome texture. If you're willing to put in the time, risotto is worth all the effort. Just the act of stirring it infuses the dish with love and care. One of my favorite types of risotto is mushroom, even though I love almost all types. But mushroom risotto is packed with so much earthy flavor, making it perfect for winter enjoyment.

My recipe for mushroom risotto includes four varieties, including dried porcini for depth of flavor and a combination of fresh mushrooms: cremini, oyster, and shiitake. I also don't let anything go to waste as I make a mushroom stock from the mushroom trimmings—it's basically just mushrooms boiled in water until all the flavor has been extracted. This risotto makes a great first course for a true Italian primi or serve it as a side dish.

Mushroom Risotto

1-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms
5 cups chicken broth or mushroom stock
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1-1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, sliced 1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, heated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

Add dried mushrooms to a bowl and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Soak, submerged with a small plate, for 20 minutes. Squeeze liquid from mushrooms and slice. Reserve liquid and strain. Combine mushroom broth and chicken broth in saucepan and heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy bottomed pan set over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove onion and garlic to a bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter to hot pan. Sauté mushrooms in three batches until brown and all moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Refresh pan with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter with each batch. Remove mushrooms to a bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter to hot pan. Add rice and toast until opaque, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add warmed wine and allow rice to absorb liquid, stirring constantly. Once all liquid is absorbed add about 1/2 cup hot broth. Once again allow rice to absorb liquid before adding another 1/2 cup hot broth, stirring constantly. Keep repeating this process until 1 cup broth remains.

Add reserved onion and garlic and half the sauteed mushrooms. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and allow rice to absorb liquid before adding the final 1/2 cup. The entire process takes about 30 minutes. The risotto should be very creamy and the rice slightly al dente.

Off from heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter and Parmesan. Divide the risotto among plates or shallow bowls. Top with remaining mushrooms, dividing evenly. Garnish with additional Parmesan and parsley. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.