Monday, June 7, 2010

Mushroom Risotto: A Delicious Exercise in Patience

I always order risotto at restaurants because I'm convinced I won't make it at home. The prospect of stirring in a small quantity of liquid, waiting until it is absorbed and then adding more makes an impatient multitasker like me cringe. It's the same reason I can't do yoga. The instructor tells everyone to stop thinking about the world and concentrate on their breathing and I'm thinking about case strategy, making a grocery list and reminding myself to call my mom (all in my head, of course). It's psychotic, I know. The only problem with restaurant risotto is that it's always more al dente than I prefer. I know al dente is all cool and Italian-like but I like my food thoroughly cooked. It's the same reason I can't eat raw sushi or a rare steak. But I digress. This weekend, the hubster took me out to a swanky Italian restaurant. I ordered the risotto. It was too al dente. I complained. Up until this point, things were fairly predictable. That is, until I exclaimed, "I'm going to make my own risotto!" The hubster nodded supportively (knowing full well I never would) and I nodded right back (knowing I'd make it simply to prove him wrong).

I spent some time thinking about all of the restaurant risottos I've had.  They've ranged from lemon to tomato to asparagus.  All quite pleasing but this particular restaurant risotto was plain.  In the restaurant's defense, the risotto was intended to play second fiddle to the gorgeous scallops laying on top but I love my starch and think it needs a personality of its own.  I also love mushrooms.  All kinds of mushrooms.  A plan for mushroom risotto was hatched. 

I used diced creminis and portabellas because that's all I had.  In the future, I'll likely add some shitake and white button mushrooms to the mix. 

I also happened to have some homemade chicken stock (a delicious byproduct of the Thomas Keller chicken) on hand.  If I didn't, I'd have no qualms using a good quality canned or carton'ed, store bought chicken stock.  I also used a standard arborio rice.  I say standard arborio because it's what my local "specialty" grocery store sells in the bins so I can buy as much as I need without having to buy a ten pound bag.  That reminds me, I have a ten pound bag of Calrose rice sitting in my pantry in case anyone wants to go halfsies (or quartersies) on it.  Google informs me that carnaroli rice may be less gummy but it's not sold in the bins and I'll risk gummy if it avoids buying another ten pound bag of rice.  I also used a nonstick pot which is a little more forgiving for stirring novices such as myself.  Oh, and in an effort to keep myself entertained during the add-stir-add proccess, I sang Lady Gaga songs. Loudly.

I served the finished product with herbed chicken breast and lemon pepper broccoli.  The risotto?  It was fabulous.  Better than the risotto?  Seeing the shocked look on the hubster's face.  Oh, and I was worried the leftovers would be too gummy but they weren't.  Leftover risotto for lunch today was so good, I cried a little bit.  My colleagues cried as well but only because they didn't have any and I haven't quite mastered the art of sharing.

Gourmet Mushroom Risotto

8 cups chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter
2 pounds mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives (or scallions or parsley)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.  Note I used more broth than the original recipe because a) I don't cook with wine and b) I like my risotto cooked thoroughly.  At the risk of stating the obvious, you'll use less liquid if you want your risotto al dente. 

2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your preference. 

4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives (or greenery of your choice), and parmesan (if cheese is your thing). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from AllRecipes


  1. Good to know the leftovers were good. I'm gonna try this one!

  2. I did the risotto at home thing a few months ago for the first time and it turned out great too. Mushroom risotto is also my favorite, except I usually throw in some squash or asparagus that has been blanched near the end if there happens to be some around. But def agree--starch needs personality. And food needs to be thoroughly cooked! And that lawyerly stuff just doesn't leave my head when I'm working on something either! Ugh!

    You really don't need to constantly stir, btw. Just do it for about a minute when you pour in a new batch of liquid, and then every few minutes thereafter.

  3. It just looks perfect. I'm not a big fan of risotto as thinking only rice and mushroom :) however, yours looks really good! also love what you served on the side

    Were you singing bad romance? :=)

  4. risotto is one of my absolute favorite things to make - it's easy, but seems luxurious.

  5. I definitely have to be in the right mood, but I love making risotto at home. Looks delicious!

  6. Congrats on mastering the risotto. You truly made a fantastic dish. Now move on to sharing!


  7. I haven't made risotto in a very long time--yours looks so good. I love how generous you were with the mushrooms--the dish looks so rich and hearty. Nice job! :-)

    By the way, I had this post up at work earlier and I thought I already commented on it. Sorry if I doubled up!

  8. The result is definitely worth the effort! Your risotto looks absolutely fantastic!

  9. I love making risotto. Theraputic.

  10. Risotto is well worth the effort. I'm so glad you decided to give it a try.

  11. Mushroom risotto is one of my favorite dishes ever. I've gotten to where I don't even mind all the stirring since the reward is worth it. Yours looks great!

  12. you had risotto too! I love mushrooms, and your picture is so good! Thanks for friend-ing me on foodbuzz :-D.

  13. I like to make my own risotto too - for the same reason as you, that its always too al dente for me in restaurants! Yours looks really delicious - it turned out beautifully!

  14. LOL! My husband loves making risotto (he's a hoverer) - I've mastered doing it in the rice cooker (minimal stirring involved, great if you don't like it al dente).

  15. Love this: "My colleagues cried as well but only because they didn't have any and I haven't quite mastered the art of sharing."

    You make me laugh, and the risotto is making my tummy rumble... I am sure I will be crying soon though because no one is here to share with me either! ;)

  16. Good effort and beautiful result. I have not tried making a risotto. It looks rather close to wet fried rice.

  17. Thanks for stopping by my blog! To answer the question, yes it's sort of subtle but also has hidden flavor. When you bite onto it, it doesn't taste like cranberry much but has a tangy flavor of it

  18. Psst. Popping in again to say I gave you an award on my site. And that I still want to eat your risotto off of my screen.

  19. Mushroom risotto is such a lovely dish and once you mast the technique the possibilities are endless. Yours looks very tasty!!!

  20. Hello there Lawyer:)
    Thanks fr dropping by my blog...
    I have the same opinion about risotto and have never tried it at home, or rather dont want to, for reasons i can even justify...ya strange..i know!
    I hope i will be motivated like u one day and come up with a kick ass version..
    I love the way u write btw..

  21. I love making risotto at home! When I first started making it, I was impatient. I hated the waiting, the stirring, the adding of liquids... But lately when I've been making it, I'm loving the longer cooking time. I love the transformation from hard grains to lovely, gooey, sticky. Plus it is a nice reprieve from trying to make something in under 20 minutes on a weeknight.
    Now the question is, will you still order at the restaurant knowing you can make your own???

  22. hi there, thanks for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment out too have a lovely blog..mushroom risotto looks delicious...I am yet to try cooking risotto at home...thanks for sharing this!

  23. Love mushroom risotto. Your stories are so entertaining! PS I noticed the desi touch on your plate--the paisley shaped sauce droplets, hehe.

  24. This looks beautiful...I myself am about to shed a tear because I want a plate of this so badly! I adore mushrooms and risotto, so I'm completely sold!

  25. I love risotto and this looks great!

  26. Thank you for stopping by my blog so I could find yours. I love risotto but am always intimidated to make it. Yours looks great and absolutely delicious. I love mushrooms and mushroom risotto is the perfect side dish for me. Sometimes having white rice everyday can get boring ;-). Thank you for sharing!

  27. Glad you found the patience...Looks so good!

  28. Your risotto looks delicious ! I find something quite comforting about making it...Looking forward to seeing other risotto dishes :)

  29. Oh lady! I love rissoto but like you said it pouring small amount of liquids till its absorbed is not my kind of thing. Nor is yoga for the same reason as yours. Really how do people concentrate? When I'm at work I think about food, when I'm home I think about my work projects and food, when I'm in the class I think about food.

    I guess my husbuster needs to challenge me only then I will make rissoto and when I do I'm coming back to this recipe ;)

    And yeah a rissoto needs good good lot of parmesan. I could never call it optional;)

  30. thanks you sub This looks beautiful...Glad you found the patience...Looks so good!


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