Risotto is a staple northern Italian dish obtained by toasting the rice in the pan and then slowly adding liquid and mixing until absorbed, for as long as the rice takes to cook. Even though the recipe requires constant stirring, the procedure is very easy and guaranteed to produce perfect results as long as the rice is kept at a constant boiling temperature for the correct amount of time.
This recipe serves two hungry people, or three not so much. It takes about 25 minutes from start to finish.
- 1 cup of Carnaroli Rice (Arborio as a second choice)
- 3 ½ cups of vegetable or beef stock
- One handful of dried or fresh Porcini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 glass of white wine (best if at room temperature)
- ¼ cup of Parmigiano cheese (grated)
- Some ground black pepper
- (Recommended) 1 pouch of Italian saffron
- (Optional) 1 green onion or a bunch of chives
- Bring the stock to a gentle boil (ensure the stock is flavorful, but not too salty).
- If using dried mushrooms, wash them well under tap water and then soak them for 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water to rehydrate them. Let any grit sediment settle to the bottom, pick up the mushrooms leaving the dirty water in the bowl.
- In a second pan, sauté the onion in 2/3 of the butter until soft and translucent.
- Add the rice and stir at medium heat for a couple of minutes (this will "toast" the rice, adding flavor).
- Add the wine and set the timer: 18 minutes if using Carnaroli, 15 minutes if using Arborio.
- Add the re-hydrated or fresh mushrooms.
- Keep stirring. When the rice dries out a bit, add some stock and go back to stirring. (Note: it might be necessary to lower the temperature, but make sure the rice keeps boiling, and so does the stock.)
- 3-4 minutes from being ready, add the saffron (dissolved in a tablespoon of stock).
- When the time is up, turn off the heat, move the pan off the burner and add the remaining butter. Keep stirring for 1 additional minute. At this point the Risotto should be creamy and soft, and without any liquid running around.
- Serve in bowls covered with the grated Parmigiano, some ground black pepper and (optionally) garnished with fresh thin-sliced green onion or chives.
- Eat immediately, as this dish absolutely can't be reheated.
Other than mushrooms, many other ingredients can be added as flavors (some of the most common are: leek, artichokes, asparagus, radicchio, Taleggio, Gorgonzola, seafood, sausage).
Even though the flavors are important, Risottos (or Risotti in Italian) are as much about the rice as they are about the add-ons. The particular type of rice and the gradual hydration while stirring constantly is what extracts the starch and gives creaminess and texture to the dish. Using the wrong type of rice or a different cooking technique can completely ruin the result.
7 thoughts on “Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms”
Flawless. It's really not an hard recipe, everyone should try. It only take a bit of time, that's also why it's rare to really be able to eat great risotto in a restaurant, it cooks too slowly and it requires too much supervision. Truth to be told though, it is possible to take a few shortcuts and still make a great dish but this is surely the most traditional and "correct" way of doing it. If you don't have it, saffron can be avoided, and as for the wine any cooking wine could be used. In a pinch you could even replace the stock with the liquid you used to rehydrate the mushrooms. The signature of the italian risotto is the toasting, the slow stirring and the final addition of fat (in this case, butter) a process called "mantecatura"
"you could even replace the stock with the liquid you used to rehydrate the mushrooms." – can't say I haven't done it… I used to add it to the stock for more mushroom flavor. But then I heard that that water is actually quite dirty and shouldn't be used. I'm not sure if this is actually the case – does anyone know more on this?
I don't know about that, but I have to say that most risotto recipes that do use dried porcini, do use the water to add flavor. Actually I've never seen one that does not do that… Fresh porcini are hard to find so that's a pretty common practice.
Hey Paolo, this is great! North American recipes are fine for bold flavours (I love my chili), but its hard to find a good recipe here for any food with a bit of subtlety. I'm glad to have a definitive version.
I do have a few neophyte questions, if you don't mind. I love good food, but that doesn't make me any less of a noob!
– In Japanese cuisine, I've been told (by multiple grandmothers) that you have to wash the rice to remove excess starch. By your description, I guess you don't want to wash the rice for risotto?
– How do you think chanterelle mushrooms will taste? There are plenty of fresh ones around Vancouver these days.
– What's the importance of saffron? The one time I used it, it didn't have a strong aroma, out of the package. I like to understand what an ingredient does when I'm cooking, and saffron is a big mystery to me!
– Is a dry wine better for risotto?
Thanks JasonS for your questions, I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge.
– As for rinsing the rice, no – risotto needs all the starch that it can get out of Carnaroli or Arborio (which are just moderately starchy).
– I've never tried chanterelle mushrooms, but there are a thousand ways you can flavor a risotto, I'm very interested in giving it a try!
– Saffron is optional in risotto, it's just typical of the Milanese style. But definitely its flavor is very intense and I'm surprised yours lacked aroma. Were you using the Italian powdered one, or the Spanish threads?
– A dry white wine is best for a mushroom risotto, but any white wine (as long as not sweet!) can be used. For other types of risottos (for instance the one with radicchio) red wine may also be recommended.
You may hate me for posting this but Aldi sells some wonderful risotti that cook from scratch in about 20 minutes. I have only made the mushroom but they have several flavors. .
Hi Kathy, I don’t at all! Pre-made risotto mixes exist also in Italy and, really, if it’s just uncooked rice and flavors (e.g. dried mushrooms) they’re absolutely fine in my book! And the fact that it cooks in 20 minutes suggests that this is the case. Still, some level of stirring must be involved.
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