Mushroom Risotto

January 16, 2012

Dare I say that this risotto is better than the last risotto I made? The one with the saffron, the most expensive spice in the world? I think that if you haul out the big wallet guns and perfume your risotto with saffron, you’ve guaranteed yourself an unbeatable dish, right?

Almost, but nope. I have to say, I thought this mushroom version was superior, and Mama agreed.

I do have to preface this with the warning that it’s still not the cheapest risotto to stir on your stove; this recipe uses dried porcini mushrooms for extra oomph, and dried porcini mushrooms aren’t a penny-pincher’s dream.

Luckily, you don’t need a lot of dried porcini (only an ounce or so) to get your money’s worth, and boy, are they worth the money. Dried porcini mushrooms=luscious little flavor bombs.

I don’t know what happens to a porcini when you dry it, but it’s magic.  Drying sexifies those suckers in the best possible way.  They become almost meaty, and the soaking broth (you reconstitute them in hot water) infuses the rice with umami* love.

C’mon, say it with me: oooooooh-mami.  Umami is just dang fun to say. It’s right up there with another of my favorite words: kumquat.  How can you say kumquat with a straight face? I cannot. That word turns me into a giggly seventh-grader.  Am I the only word dork out there who plays favorites?

Anyways, dear readers, I think you should make this risotto.  It’s divine. And even despite the pricey porcini and the Arborio rice and the good Parmesan cheese, it’s not going to break the bank.  If you’re a veg-head, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and you’ll still be happy.  Personally, I like the richness that chicken stock adds to the dish, but if you object to a pot of simmering cluckcluck, use the veggie stock.

For those of you committed to the post-holiday Save the Ass! campaign, feel free to omit the last 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter at the end, but do not omit the Parmesan cheese, I beg of you.  Just ask Ina Garten. If you splurge on the good cheese, you won’t have to use more than a handful or two to really make this dish sing.  It’s worth a few extra minutes on the treadmill.

Mucho Mushroom Risotto

serves 6

1 (1-ounce) package dried porcini mushrooms (you can find these next to the fresh herbs in the produce aisle)

1 cup boiling water

4-5 cups low-sodium chicken stock, warmed

1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil

2-3 shallots, sliced

1 cup mixed fresh mushrooms, such as cremini, chanterelle, shiitake or button, cleaned and sliced

1 1/2 cups Arborio or other short-grain rice

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter (optional)

A few handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Remove dried porcini from packaging and place in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms and let soak until reconstituted and soft enough to chop, about 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms and chop. Do not throw away the soaking water!

Strain the soaking water through a cheesecloth placed in a fine sieve to remove any silt or dirt particles. Set soaking water aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the chicken broth and the soaking water; keep at a simmer.

In a large saucepan (preferably non-stick), melt the 1 tablespoon butter with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add the rice and the shallots; stir until the rice is coated with the butter/oil and the shallots have begun to soften, about 4 minutes.

Add the chopped dried mushrooms, a little salt and pepper and the wine, stirring constantly, until liquid is nearly evaporated.  Keep adding warm stock, in 1/2 cup increments, stirring until liquid is almost evaporated and then adding more stock.

After ten minutes, stir in fresh mushrooms and keep stirring/adding stock as necessary. Cook about ten minutes more, on medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until rice is tender but still has a good chew to it.

This could take up to 30 minutes if you live at high altitude, but check the rice at the 20 minute mark.

When rice is done, stir in butter (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley and top with Parmesan cheese.

Serve in warm bowls, passing additional Parmesan cheese at the table, if desired.

*Umami is a relatively modern term, referring to what Asian cultures have deemed the fifth sense of taste.  Umami refers to a meaty, salty taste, often found in bacon, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and soy sauce.  Those are all good things, are they not?

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon January 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

I’ve got risotto on the menu for this week. But that doesn’t mean I can’t put this version on the menu for next week! If you don’t have cheesecloth, a coffee filter also works to strain the gritty bits from your mushroom liquid.


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:07 am

Wendi, that’s a really good tip! I knew you were smart! :)


Kevin (BBQ Smoker Site) January 16, 2012 at 10:20 am

Shamefully, the first time I heard of risotto was when I watched the movie Big Night. @Wendi – nice tip on the coffee filter vs. cheesecloth use!


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:09 am


Big Night rocks! One of my favorite food movies of all time!


Jenna January 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

I’ve never tried dried porcini mushrooms, but now that I’ve read your glorious endorsement of them, they’ll have to make an appearance on my table. And thanks for defining “umami”–I’ve seen the word tossed around, but never knew what the heck it was all about.


leslie January 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I call Risotto my “weekend rice” cause it takes so long to make…but it is soooooo well worth it!


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:10 am


It *is* kind of a pain in the arse to make, isn’t it? But I agree, if it’s done right, it’s so worth it!


Katybeth January 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Ok I’m sold and will give this a whirl. We love both risotto and mushrooms! But I do have some saffron, from one of your other recipes…so please give me a reason to use it and tell me it will never go bad!


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:13 am


Make saffron rice instead of regular rice as a side dish. Dissolve a healthy pinch of saffron in a few tablespoons of hot water, and then proceed as you normally would for rice. Or you could make Indian Pullao rice, which I promise I’ll post about soon!

Or you could just make more risotto. mmmm


Phoo-d January 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Mmm risotto… Mushrooms and risotto are a match made in heaven. I’ve been grinding up dried mushrooms in my spice grinder and sprinkling the umami dust on everything lately. It adds such a meaty oomph without the meat.


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:14 am


Umami dust? You are a genius!


Paula (Salad in a Jar) January 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I’m a huge mushroom lover so this is right up my alley.

You are my favorite word dork. Case in point–“cluck-cluck”? Girl, you crack me up.


Naptimewriting January 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Risotto is, indeed, a weekend rice because it takes so long. And I don’t know how you get it done in 30 minutes at altitude. It takes me 30 at sea level, and once, honestly, took more than an hour at 7000 feet. I was so mad.

I’ve always been a risotto purist: use butter OR oil to coat the rice, then finish with the same (either butter OR oil, but whatever you started with). I’m intrigued to try the mix.

And I find a veg-head risotto, as long as the fats are high quality, easily matches the cluckcluck. But I’m biased.

Glad Mama enjoyed her risotto. You’re a good girl.


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:16 am


I do think our risotto takes longer at high altitude. I start checking it around the 25 minute mark, and it’s never done. It’s probably about a 40 minute ordeal around here.

It took you an hour once? Gaaa, I’d have gone insane.


Heather January 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I’m with Nap that this absolutely must be a weekend thing. And honey, I’m lazy so it better taste damn good if I’m gonna slave all day over it. But I do love a good risotto! Gonna have to give this one a shot – spendy mushrooms and all.


Kate January 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I hope I remember this… mushrooms used to be a favorite, but dang hormones took that love.


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:17 am


Hormones took away my love of sushi. Forever. I’m still bitter about it.


Chiara @ The Wandering Cook January 17, 2012 at 3:22 am

While I was in London my friend who was hosting me asked me to make risotto milanese. So we went to look for saffron. We found it in a spice store. We paid 8 GBP (that’s 12 dollars) for 1 gram of the stuff (that’s .03 ounces) and it wasn’t nearly as good as the one that I buy in Italy or Switzerland for a fraction of the price. I about fainted when I saw the price tag…


TKW January 17, 2012 at 6:18 am


Eeek! At a price like that, I hope you peed out gold coins afterwards?


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes January 17, 2012 at 7:15 am

Oh-mami indeed.
My favorite (english) word: satsuma.
You should try replacing the white wine with red and serve that up with a little lambcutlets. Heaven in triplicate.


Tiffany January 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

Mushroom risotto would be on my plate for my last meal on earth. Divine. And totally worth all the money. And the extra junk in the trunk.


Ink January 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

“Umami” reminds me of the Friends episode where Ross kept trying to scare Rachel and Phoebe by jumping out at them. And for some reason kept claiming that he had “unagi” or something like that, like a spidey sense.

Totes unrelated but proves that I watched Friends too much.


Lyndsey@TheTinySkillet January 17, 2012 at 10:19 am

After all that how can I not make this? :) Did/t know that about dried prchini mushrooms. I’ve seen them in a can, and if I am correct aren’t they the ones that look like the end of a ____ ah…nevermind. I am surprised that the word porcini didn’t have the same effect on you. I must be a word dork too, but I have some that make me cringe, like “prioratize”…or “physicallity”, I don’t know why. I have other’s too, but can’t think of them right now, and if you really think about it isn’t “world” a funny word, just say it a few times and you’ll see what I mean. :D

Have a great day!


BigLittleWolf January 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

I have never gotten risotto right! But as usual, you make me want to try harder. (AND, you make me hungry.)

It’s lunchtime. Maybe I could run to the market…


SuziCate January 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

MMMMMM…I love mushroom risotto!


Jennifer January 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm

That looks so creamy and warm.


Amy @ Never-True Tales January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Yet another recipe I’d like you to come over and cook for me, please. Preferably before six. Thank you ever so much. Sincerely, the laziest woman alive.


Mary Lee January 18, 2012 at 6:00 am

I love risotto. Who CARES if it takes a long time to make… there’s a bottle of Pinot Grigio right there on the counter…!


TKW January 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

Mary Lee,

I like the way your mind works, Lady.


Arnebya January 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I don’t even know where to FIND porcini mushrooms. And this looks scrumptious, especially midday when there’s 2.5 hours left until I get home to start dinner.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri January 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I’ve always been a little afraid to make risotto, but you have convinced me that I must attempt it. Thanks Kitch!


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