Mushroom risotto is a wonderful and sumptuous dish that can be made in less than an hour, provided that you already have the mushrooms prepped. The taste of the risotto is seriously enhanced by porcini or other European wild mushrooms such as trumpets or chanterelles. These can be purchased at a rational price wholesale in one-pound portions. Fresh wild mushrooms sautéed in butter are wonderful but probably too costly for most and seriously limited seasonally. Truly wild mushrooms add incredible flavor. Portobello, cremini, shiitake, or other cultivated mushrooms (Oriental or European), however exotic, are not “wild,” even though they may be so described on many menus. Cooking any risotto does require careful attention at the stove for about twenty to twenty-five minutes until the risotto is cooked.
This recipe is flexible – while it calls for 2 cups of rice, you can use 1 cup of rice and scale the other ingredients proportionally. The full recipe will make 8 generous appetizer servings.
- 1–2 ounces dried porcini (also known as cèpes) or other dried wild European mushrooms
- unsalted butter and olive oil for sautéing, plus a couple tablespoons for service
- 1 cup water, heated to reconstitute the dried mushrooms, then reserved
- 2 large shallots or ½ large sweet onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups short-grain rice (arborio or carnaroli)
- 1 cup drinkable dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc, but not chardonnay)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 5–7 cups or so of hot water or low-sodium vegetable stock (not chicken)
- 1–2 cups fresh mushrooms, sautéed until the liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms browned (these would include, for example, cremini, portobello, or white button mushrooms, but not any Asian variety such as shiitake)
- 1 cup or more parmigiano-reggiano cheese, generously and freshly grated
Prepare all of the ingredients, including the hot stock and the sautéed mushrooms. Do not use a domestic or other nontraditional cheese unless needed for kosher compliance. Soak the dried European wild mushroom (porcini, trumpets, and/or chanterelles) in the hot water until they are softened. Lift them out of the liquid carefully, leaving any sand and reserving the liquid. Let the reserved soaking liquid rest so that the dirt can settle to the bottom. Chop the reconstituted mushrooms roughly and reserve.
In about 2 tablespoons total of butter and olive oil, sauté the onion and garlic lightly with the rice. Sauté the rice until it is sort of translucent and is fully coated with the oil and butter. Then deglaze with the cup of white wine before adding any other liquid, letting the wine evaporate and absorb. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each cup of rice. Add the thyme. Add pepper to taste.
Stir the rice frequently, simmering slowly, and do not abandon it at the stove. As the wine in the pot is absorbed, add another cup or so of liquid, starting with the mushroom-reconstituting liquid-but toss the dregs from the reconstituting liquid. Add the chopped, reconstituted mushrooms. Continue stirring and adding vegetable stock until the rice is fully cooked. You can tell when the rice is fully cooked by tasting it; it should be creamy and not crunchy. As you near the completion of the cooking process, add the previously sautéed fresh mushrooms. When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat, and add grated parmesan cheese to taste (at least 1 cup or more) and a couple tablespoons of butter. The rice mixture should not be completely stiff before you finish cooking but should be slightly soupy.
An additional idea, perhaps less traditional but nonetheless delicious, is to mix in snow peas, sugar snap peas, or asparagus (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces) a few minutes before turning off the heat. These vegetables should be served bright green and somewhat crisp. None should be cooked long.
Serve promptly and hot with a salad.
Editor’s Note: Recipe courtesy of Kenneth M. Horwitz, author of Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style. The book is available for purchase at www.deepflavorscookbook.com or on Amazon or Kindle.