Wild Mushroom Risotto


Risotto is one of my favorite examples of something simple that is consistently overcomplicated. Besides unnecessarily precise measurements, to read some recipes and instructions, you'd think that making risotto is a mystical ritual. The result is that risotto becomes a special occasion dish when it's really a wonderful meal to make anytime.

Take the measurements below as a guide. The exact amount of water or broth you use is up to you. It really doesn't matter. If you like a soupier risotto, you use a little more. If you like it drier, you use less. It really is that simple. And cheese, it's like adding cream to coffee, there is no universal "right" amount.

This serves 2, maybe 3, people as a main dish.

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. First thing is to start rehydrating the dried mushrooms. Put them in a pan with the broth and water on a back burner. Keep the burner low so the broth just steams. Remember, porcini always have some sand, so don't stir this up a lot or ladle out the grit on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion and sauté it in oil (4 T. might seem like a lot, but you want enough to coat the rice). When it begins to brown, add the garlic and rice. Stir for a minute or two until the rice becomes translucent and you can see its core.
  3. Ladle about 1/2 cup of mushroom broth into the rice and adjust the burner under the rice so the broth just simmers—you don't want it to instantly go up in steam. Stir. When most of the broth is absorbed, add another ladleful. Keep this cycle up.
  4. Pretty soon a sort of gravy will develop. Each addition of broth will thin the gravy, but then it'll thicken up again. When you can see the bottom of the pan as you stir, it's time to add more broth.
  5. After 15 minutes or so, when the mushrooms are soft, scoop them out with a slotted spoon, chop them up and add them to the rice. Also, grate about a cup of cheese and set it aside. (You aren't a slave to the stirring. You can step away and wash lettuce for a salad or set the table. Just come back before the rice sticks to the bottom.)
  6. When the rice is done—this can take about half an hour—stir in some cheese. It will take a minute or so to really melt. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. Offer extra cheese on the side.

Cooking As Science

Pockets with Tomato Mushroom Filling
Bread Dough Tips
Wild Mushroom Risotto

More John Ryan recipes in the Just Good Food Archive

More Risotto recipes in Pasta, Risotto and You


This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007

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