Mushroom Risotto

Risotto…It’s a great dish to make at home, but many people don’t, because they think it’s too difficult.  It’s really very easy…all it takes is some understanding of the whole process and a little patience.  If you give it time and let it do it’s whole “creamy” thing, you’ll have yourself a delectable dish!

Risotto is an Italian rice dish made with a specific type of rice.  “Arborio” is a short grain rice high in amylopectin, a starch that dissolves in the cooking process giving the risotto its creaminess.  Usually, in savory risottos, onion is sautéed for flavor, the rice is added and allowed to toast, then it’s all cooked in hot liquid that’s slowly added until fully absorbed, creating a luxurious, creamy risotto. Coating the rice with the oil prevents it from absorbing the liquid too quickly, thereby creating a more tender risotto.  The secret is to simmer the rice gently while stirring and then “gradually” add the hot stock making sure the liquid is fully absorbed before adding more.  This shouldn’t take more than about 20 minutes.  Don’t make the mistake of using a long-grain rice, as it won’t produce the right flavor or texture.

Mantecare, which means “to whip or whisk” in Italian, is the last step to finish the risotto. Off  the heat, a bit of butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese are quickly stirred in. This helps bind the ingredients together while adding flavor and silkiness to the risotto.

Once you’ve gotten down the art of making risotto, the possibilities are endless!  You can incorporate just about anything you can imagine, from different vegetables, meats or a combination thereof.  And don’t forget dessert risottos…they are fabulous!

For this mushroom risotto, I combined ideas from several recipes and came up with what I think is a winner!  This dish not only gets it’s deep flavor from the fresh mushrooms, but also gets an added punch from some dried mushrooms that are reconstituted in hot water, then pureed into a paste and added at the end.  So, if you can’t take a trip to Italy right now, whip up one of their signature dishes, pull out a great bottle of Chianti, and savor the flavor!

salute, ricchezza e felicità e il tempo necessario per godere di loro!

(health, wealth and love…and enough time to enjoy them)

Mushroom Risotto

Printable Recipe


  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced (any kind or a combination of several)
  • 1 cup dried mushrooms, soaked in 3 cups hot water (any kind…I used shitake)
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced  onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups hot chicken stock and 1 cup mushroom water from the dried mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Chopped chives or chopped Italian Parsley, as a garnish


Cover the bottom of a large skillet (12-inch) with approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add smashed garlic cloves and heat over medium heat until garlic is fragrant and oil is hot, but not smoking.  Remove garlic and discard.  Add mushrooms, and lightly season with kosher salt.   Saute over medium heat until mushrooms are just tender and lightly browned.  Set aside.

Using your hand, carefully scoop the reconstituted dried mushrooms out of the hot water and puree in a food processor with just enough of the mushroom water to make a smooth mushroom paste.  Carefully scoop out about 1 cup of the top portion of the mushroom water for use in the risotto.  Discard the rest, as it will contain sand and dirt from the mushrooms.  Set the mushroom paste aside.

To a risotto pan or medium saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add onions, lightly season with salt, and cook until translucent, stirring frequently, about five minutes.  Add rice and stir to coat with olive oil.  Continue to stir and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until rice starts to toast.  Add white wine, stirring and cooking over medium to medium-high heat until wine is absorbed.

*Note:  You may need to adjust your heat during this process of adding liquids, depending on the type of pot and your heat source.  You do not want the rice sticking as you cook it and the liquids absorb.

Add the reserved one cup of the mushroom water, stirring frequently, until absorbed.  Repeat this process with the hot chicken stock two more times.  You will have one cup of stock left.  This will take some time, so be patient.  Add the last cup of stock and stir.  Add reserved mushroom paste along with the fresh mushrooms and cook until rice is cooked, yet firm to the bite (al dente) and the mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese.  Whip until well combined.  This will set the perfect consistency of the rice which should flow and not be able to hold it’s shape.  Check for seasonings and garnish with chopped chives or parsley.

**Liz’s Note:  Be sure and taste at each stage and add salt as needed.


One Response

  1. I have this simmering on the stove right now…thanks for the recipe:)

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