Remember that post where I talked about Italian secondi, (main courses) the unsung heroes of Italian cuisine that are shadowed by the ever-popular pasta and pizza? Well, I’d like to add another dish to that category: risotto! I’ve noticed that many cuisines have their own riff on rice – the Spanish have paella, the Chinese have fried rice and the Mexicans Arroz con Leche. Risotto is rice done the Italian way. ”Arborio” or ”carnaroli” rice is slowly cooked with white wine and broth and finished off with a healthy dose of parmesan cheese. In addition, it is important to know that Italy is the largest rice producer in Europe, and the Lombardy and Piedmont regions are Italy’s rice bowl. With that being said, I hope you’ll enjoy this mushroom risotto recipe, for one of the most classic Italian dishes!
The Risotto Identity
Risotto is a needy dish! The equivalent of a fussy toddler who requires coddling and a bit of extra attention. It requires a cooking time of at least 30 minutes and you have to slowly add the broth to the rice and stir until is completely absorbed. This process is certainly more complex compared to the quick boil time of pasta. But the slow stirring process is what releases the starch in the rice and gives the dish its signature richness. But I promise that the end result will totally be worth the extra effort. Firstly, risotto is a change of pace from pasta. Secondly, it is also comfort food that is still fancy enough for company. Thirdly and most importantly it is extremely versatile! Once you have the basic recipe down you can add any other ingredients you want.
Risotto with Mushrooms Recipe
6–8 cups (1.5–2 liters) chicken broth
1/2 ounce (14 grams) dried porcini mushrooms
About 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
About 3 tablespoons (22 grams, or estimate) olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 ounces (224 grams) white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups (342 grams) arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine (158 ml)
1/2 cup (56 grams) freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving
Put the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring it to a simmer over low heat. Add the porcini mushrooms and let them soak for about five minutes. Transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board and chop them finely. Keep the broth warm over very low heat while you make the risotto.
Next, melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook until they are softened and translucent. Add the white mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes (add a bit more olive oil here if it looks like your mushrooms are dry). Add the chopped porcini mushrooms, then stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes in the pan. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often (this will only take 2–3 minutes).
Your mushroom risotto is almost ready
Begin to add the broth to the rice: add 1 cup of hot broth and simmer over medium-low heat until it is absorbed (about 5 minutes) stirring often. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by the cup and stirring often. This will take about 30–40 minutes. Mix in the parmesan, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately* with extra parmesan cheese on the side. This mushroom risotto recipe makes enough for 4 people. Enjoy!
It’s time to eat!
*Note that is best to eat risotto right away. It does not take well to reheating and isn’t nearly as good cold (I warned you it was fussy!).
Mushroom risotto (risotto con funghi), is one of the most classic autumn recipes, but risotto with pumpkin, saffron (otherwise known as risotto Milanese,) pancetta and peas, shrimp, or lobster (if you want to do something really special) would be delicious too. Use your imagination! Happy eating! Leftover risotto, if there is any, is great for making suppli’ though!