An elegant dinner couldn’t be simpler than a creamy wild mushroom risotto. Chanterelles, buttons, and cremini mushrooms give off different textures and meatiness to this meal. The addition of mushroom stock to this vegetarian risotto helps incorporate the flavor of mushrooms into every bite.
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When I think of Italian food, I mainly think of pasta… and why not?! Pasta is awesome! It’s not a well-kept secret that I love making pasta from scratch, in fact here is a post all about how I make pasta from scratch. But another super Italian dish that is very super simple to make is the humble but jaw-dropping risotto. Finished with butter and cheese, what isn’t there to love?
What is Risotto?
Some of you may be wondering what is risotto? Fantastic question, risotto is a rice dish from Italy that uses a short grain rice (Arborio) that is super creamy and is finished with cheese. In order to make a perfect risotto, you have to understand that not all grains of rice is created equal.
Most rice that everyone is used to is the Jasmine and Basmati rice. These are what are called “long grain rice.” Long grain simply means… the rice is long. There isn’t a ton of starch in them to create the creamy texture that risotto is infamous for. Short grain rice (Arborio) is used in risotto because they’re short and stout, which means they have a ton of starch in them. Using this rice and a particular cooking method is key in making a successful risotto.
How to Cook Risotto
Typically, when cooking long-grain rice, there is a 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice and the rice is left to cook in hot liquid with no stirring involved. Cooking risotto requires about a 6:1 cooking ratio! About twice as much as, say, rice pilaf! Here is why.
What creates the creamy texture of risotto is the constant stirring of the rice grains releasing the rice starch. Adding hot liquid a little at a time, allows the rice to become tender and release their starch slowly. Resulting in dreamy, creamy, risotto!
Another important, and maybe overlooked, tip to making creamy risotto is the stirring implement you use. Traditional Italians use wooden spoons to stir. The reason being is that metal spoons would beat up the grains of rice too much because of how hard that material is. Wood is much gentler than metal and more of the rice grain stays in tack. If you don’t have a wooden spoon, a rubber spatula would also do the trick.
I like to make my risotto by sautéing some shallots in some olive oil in the beginning. This gives the risotto a bit more flavor and I also can toast the grains of rice ever so slightly.
What really sets this risotto apart from anything else is the mushroom stock I created just for this recipe. I took the stems of the cremini and button mushrooms, along with some peppercorns, bay leaves, and shallot skins covered them with water in a medium sauce pot and let the ingredients steep in the water over a few hours on medium-low heat. The result was a gorgeous medium brown colored liquid that had a rich mushroom flavor.
The star(s) of this easy risotto is the mushrooms. Easily. But cooking mushrooms properly is a bit more involved than throwing them in a saute pan and wait until they’re soft. I addressed most of the components of cooking mushrooms in this post but figured I’d go over the basics again.
- DON’T CROWD YOUR PAN!!!!! Cooking mushrooms in batches are the best way (albeit, a long way) to get a great sear on your mushrooms. Using a stainless-steel pan is a great option to cook your mushrooms, I like to use my cast iron though because cooking with cast-iron is awesome!
- Cook the mushrooms with sprigs of fresh thyme. This help incorporate flavor and makes them more aromatic.
- Season the mushrooms only seconds away from them being finished. This keeps the mushrooms from releasing too much liquid throughout cooking and would hinder the searing process.
- Stir the mushrooms as little as possible. Again, good searing so leave them alone.
When it comes to picking out mushrooms for this risotto, I love using chanterelles but they aren’t a must. A good alternative would be oyster mushrooms (you could use those stems in the mushroom stock mentioned above). If you are using chanterelles, be sure to wash them thoroughly as there are sticks and stems that come with them.
I hope you enjoy this tribute to Italian cuisine. You can see how easy this risotto was to make, now make it for dinner and thank me later!
China – Cashew Chicken
China – China
Germany –Pork & Sauerkraut Cabbage Rolls
Greece – Greek Style Grilled Lamb Chops
Italy –Fettuccini Alfredo
Italy – Wild Mushroom Risotto
Korea –Korean Beef Tacos (Bulgogi)
Sweden –Swedish Cucumber Salad
USA – Instant Pot Bourbon BBQ Ribs
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4-5 cups mushroom stock
- ½ cup Arborio rice
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 8 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and woody stems removed
- ¼ ounce fresh thyme sprigs
- Stems from cremini and button mushrooms
- 6 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- Skins from 1 shallot
- In a large stainless-steel skillet, bring olive oil to temperature over medium high heat. Saute shallots until translucent, then add the rice grains. Toast the grains of rice for 2 minutes and add the first ladle of stock to the pan. Stir until the bubbling calms down.
- As the rice absorbs the stock, add more a ladle at a time, continuing to stir. The liquid will eventually become milky in color, evidence that the starch from the rice is releasing. Continue this process until all liquid has been absorbed, about 40 minutes.
- Add cheese, parsley and sautéed mushrooms to risotto and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Working in batches, add sliced mushrooms, creating a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Add sprig of thyme to the mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to sear and caramelize on one side, about 3-4 minutes, before stirring. Once mushrooms are fully cooked, season with salt and pepper and remove to a paper-lined plate.
- Continue process until all mushrooms are cooked.
- Place ingredients in a medium sized sauce pot and cover with water. Turn the heat on to medium-low and allow the ingredients to steep for a few hours. Add water as necessary when you see the water begin to evaporate.
- Once the stock has turned a medium brown, turn off heat and steep for an additional 30 minutes. Strain stock into a 2 quart container and store in the fridge.
Feel free to use any combination of mushrooms in this recipe if you don't like the ones I've used.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size cup
Amount Per ServingCalories 162 Saturated Fat 1g Cholesterol 4mg Sodium 131mg Carbohydrates 29g Fiber 4g Sugar 2g Protein 7g