Mushroom Risotto

how to make mushroom risotto

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This post will tell you how to make mushroom risotto. Scroll to the bottom for the recipe to get right to cooking.

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a staple of Northern Italy. It is a starchy rice flavored with broth and wine. There is so much starch in this rice that you don’t even need to add cream to give Risotto its signature creamy texture. It is a highly technical dish because of the amount of time it takes to make. Arborio Rice is a super thick kernel that needs a lot of tender love and care to turn it into a soft, al dente morsel. If you rush through the entire process, or don’t give the rice the continual bath of stock it needs, the rice kernels won’t cook all the way through and you end up with a crunchy mess.

Which Mushroom?

I will be using Shitake mushrooms in my risotto. You can use any kind of mushroom you want as long as you cook it right. It makes a huge difference how you cook your mushrooms. They can come out well-tasting with tons of earthy-buttery flavor, or a slimy, squishy indescribable booger. I’ve learned that you should cook the mushrooms in a pan with some butter over a period of time so that they brown really well. This causes the water in the mushroom to evaporate and you don’t get that weird, slimy effect.

Hallelujah for wine!

We will be cooking with white wine, which may be a pretty scary feat if you’re unfamiliar with it. Here is a helpful way to choose which wine to use. We will be reducing the wine in our risotto until it has all but evaporated. Your rice will taste either bold or sweet, buttery like Chardonnay or crisp like Pinot Grigio. I have always used a Sauvignon Blanc in my Risottos. You should choose a favorite white wine based on what you want to taste. If you happen to use a sweeter wine, like a Riesling or, heaven forbid, a dessert wine, you are going to end up with a sweet savory rice that won’t mesh too well. Imagine using a sweet Moscato wine with savory Mushrooms? Doesn’t sound appetizing at all. Also, get a wine you want to drink as you cook.

If you know the basics, you can cook any Risotto you want

Butter, onions, arborio rice, wine and stock make a basic Risotto. For the first part of risotto, we will sauté the rice with butter and onions. Then we will add some wine and reduce. Next we will add stock and reduce, add more stock and reduce. If you want to keep this dish strictly vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth. However, for mine, I will be using chicken stock. We will continue to add stock and reduce until, after the last reduction, we end up with a nice puddle of al dente rice. This is just the template, however, a building block for what will be added next. What you add after this first part makes a Risotto unique. I’m adding parmasean cheese, mushrooms, and pan-seared scallops. To make it your own, use ingredients that make it yours, like broccoli and cheddar, or shrimp and spinach. Risotto is a blank canvas waiting for your creation. 

Scar, from the Lion King, says to “Be Prepared”

Make sure you read the WHOLE recipe on how to make mushroom risotto before you begin. You need to do your prep-work, or mise-en-place, before you even turn on the stovetop. Have your prep-work done before you start cooking. It will keep you organized and reduce stress by not needlessly cutting and chopping ingredients when you should be focused on cooking. Separate the butter; dice the onion; measure the rice, wine, and stock; slice the mushrooms; and chop the parsley. This endeavor will be easier if you are prepared. Maybe even fun!

Ingredients

  • Butter, separated
  • onion, diced
  • Arborio Rice
  • Wine
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese (about two large handfuls)
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Pasley, rough chop
  • Salt

Method

1. Melt a few cubes of butter in a saucepan, add the onion. 

You are going to “sweat” the onion. If you look at a raw onion, you see that it is white and hard. As the onion cooks in the butter, it will start to turn more translucent and become soft.

2. Add Rice

You are going to “pearl” your rice. This means that you’re going to mix the onion and butter mixture with your rice. If you don’t have enough butter in the pan, the rice is going to stick to the bottom and burn. If the pan is dry, add more butter. Keep stirring the mixture. Do NOT allow the rice to burn on the bottom. Keep stirring the mixture until the rice turns just slightly brown. 

3. Add Wine

Add enough wine to reach to the top of the rice. As you stir the mixture, make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so you get the bits that have stuck to the pan. Reduce until hardly any wine is left. 

4. Add chicken stock, repeatedly until rice is soft

This is the tedious part of making risotto. You’re going to add enough stock to cover the rice, then reduce it till there is nothing left. Add more stock to cover the rice, then reduce until evaporated. You will continue to do this until the rice is just soft enough to be edible. Always, always, always chew on a few rice kernels before adding another batch of stock. If the rice is just a tad bit crunchy, add another batch of stock. We are trying to reach al dente. Cooking Risotto is just like cooking pasta. You want just enough for the kernel to have a “bite,” or just pass crunchy. 

Remember, though, once you go pass the point of acceptable-to-eat rice, you are now in mushy, squishy rice zone. There is no cure for it. If you reach this mushy zone, don’t worry, keep calm. Whoozaah. Just throw it away and start over. It is ok if you make a mistake. Take a sip of that wine and begin again.

Whew! Made it pass the first part

At this point, you have made a basic Risotto. Now you can add any flavorings you want. We will continue with the cheese, mushrooms, and parsley.

5. During step 4, brown mushrooms in butter

Cook the mushrooms in a separate pan for a long time until they have turned brown. You want to evaporate as much water as you can from these mushrooms. Once they are a beautiful golden brown add salt to taste. 

6. Mix cheese, mushrooms, and parsley in rice mixture

Stir the mushrooms and parsley into the risotto. Place the Risotto pan back on to the heat if you took a while to brown your mushrooms and need to reheat the dish. 

7. Tasting

This is the part where you want to taste your final product. Does it need salt? Or is it too salty? Is the mixture too dry? Or is it too wet? 

Helpful tips:

Need salt, does it seem like it “needs something else?” Answer: add a little salt.

Too Salty? Add some water or heavy cream then reduce. Heavy cream might add a richness that takes that saltiness away. However, there isn’t a magical elixir to take away too much salt.

Too dry? Add a little stock in small amounts to get it to the consistency you want.

Too wet? Place pan back on heat and reduce till you reach an appropriate consistency.

The end

Risotto should sit on a plate and hold its shape. It should not slosh back and forth like cereal in a bowl of milk. It also shouldn’t clench to a bowl if you hold that bowl upright. Risotto should be just enough to be saucy, but not enough to be soupy. We hope you now know how to make mushroom risotto.

You could enjoy this Mushroom Risotto simply on its own. But, I decide to add a protein: seared scallops. After I sear each side a beautiful golden, buttery brown, I place on top of the Risotto in an attempt to impress an invisible Gordon Ramsey.

Yum Yum, you donkey! Check out my Braised Beef Short Ribs while your mouth is still watering!

Mushroom Risotto

A creamy rice dish with rich cheese and mushrooms. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy, italy, mushroom, rice, risotto, white wine
Servings: 4
Author: Johnny

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c white onion
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c White wine
  • 5 c Stock or water
  • 1 c sliced white mushrooms
  • 3/4 c Parmesan

Instructions

  • Melt 1/2tbsp butter in saucepan, add onion
    how to make mushroom risotto
  • Add rice, mix till slightly brown rice
    how to make mushroom risotto
  • add wine, reduce till evaporated
  • add stock, reduce till evaporated. Add stock and reduce repeatedly until rice is al dente
    how to make mushroom risotto
  • during step 4, brown mushrooms in 1/2tbsp butter. Add salt-to-taste after the mushrooms have browned.
    how to make mushroom risotto
  • Mix cheese, mushrooms, and parsley in rice mixture. Add stock if consistency is too dry.
    how to make mushroom risotto
  • Taste, season.