Risotto ai Funghi, Italian for mushroom risotto, is traditionally made with porcini mushrooms. However, with porcini mushrooms hard to come by aside from the foragers at local farmer’s markets, I whipped up this risotto with good ol’ cremini (baby portabello) mushrooms and it’s still a comforting, hearty meal for a cold night. You really could use any mushrooms or blend of mushrooms of your choosing, although I would not recommend using only white button mushrooms – those little guys are a bit plain in flavor.
(adapted from this AllRecipes.com recipe)
3 cups chicken broth (low sodium or homemade would be good so you can control the seasoning)
2 tablespoons olive oil
10-12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used 8 oz of cremini and 3 oz of fresh shiitake)
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are good choices)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
In a small pot, bring the chicken broth to a simmer and lower the heat.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss in the mushrooms, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and saute until they are softened and browned, about three to five minutes. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to a bowl and set aside.
Now in the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the shallot and garlic until the shallot becomes translucent, about one to two minutes.
Add the rice. Let the grains toast a bit, stirring frequently so nothing burns. I learned this trick from the instructions on the back of our favorite Rice-A-Roni box. Personally, I like the toasted flavor the step imparts on the final product. After a few moments, pour in the wine and continue to stir until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Now for the oh so fun (not) maintenance of the risotto. Working on medium to medium-high heat, start ladling in about 1/2 cup of broth. Stir gently to keep the risotto from sticking. It will take about two minutes before the liquid is absorbed. Continue slowly, adding about 1/2 cup of broth at a time, to build the starch levels, the primary contributor to the risotto’s creaminess.
You may not need all three cups of broth. Or you may find yourself needing a bit more (in which case you could also substitute wine or water, if needed). Risotto making is not a perfect science. But once the rice is al dente, add in the reserved mushrooms and their liquid. Mix to combine.
Plop the pat of butter and stir in, allowing it to slowly melt and blend with the risotto. Hey, I never said this dish was particularly healthy…
Sprinkle with the grated parmesan. You’ll want to know how the salty cheese impacts the overall flavor before moving on to the final step – seasoning. I like to use pink Himalayan salt as a finishing salt, along with some fresh cracked black pepper.
I particularly enjoyed this recipe since its difficulty seemed to be just right. Some recipes claim to yield a finished dish in 15 minutes and some call for a full hour or longer, but for me, the rice had absorbed all of the added liquid after about 30 minutes. Also, I found this slow, stirring method to be well worth the extra effort and attention.
Don’t let Gordon Ramsay’s relentless yelling on Hell’s Kitchen instill a fear of risotto in you like the show did in me. I believe in you! If you do give this hearty, mushroom-y recipe a try, please holla back and let us know how it turned out.