Classic Mushroom Risotto

Fall/Winter

Needless to say, the quality of the mushrooms has a major impact on this dish—but you can use white button or diced portobello mushrooms (gills scraped away and discarded) to good effect if you get a good sear on them. A variety of wild mushrooms or a combination of button and wild, if they’re available, is very nice. Here I recommend sautéing diced buttons or portobellos and then adding them to the cooking risotto, where they will continue to release their own liquids. Another option is to use dried mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water that you then strain through a coffee filter and use as the cooking liquid. If you can’t get your hands on good wild mushrooms, use 1 pound/450 grams total of the white buttons and portobellos and reserve half of them after the initial sauté to garnish the finished risotto.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons/90 milliliters vegetable or olive oil
  • 8 ounces/225 grams white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced or diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • cups/300 milliliters dry white wine
  • 8 ounces/225 grams assorted wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, oyster, morel)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup/200 grams Arborio or other risotto rice
  • 3 to 5 cups/710 milliliters to 1.2 liters Vegetable Stock, mushroom stock, Easy Overnight Chicken Stock, or store-bought broth, warm
  • 4 tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter
  • ½ cup/40 grams grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over high heat. When it’s smoking-hot, add the sliced mushrooms and three-quarters of the minced shallot. Try to get a good sear on the mushrooms by pressing down on them. Give them a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. When they’re completely tender, deglaze the pan with 1 cup/240 milliliters of the white wine. Bring the wine to a simmer, then transfer the wine and mushrooms to a bowl.

Wipe out the sauté pan and repeat the searing with another 2 tablespoons oil and the wild mushrooms, adding the remaining shallot and deglazing with the remaining ¼ cup white wine, and cook until all the liquid has cooked off. Transfer these to a separate bowl.

Wipe out the pan again and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the onion and another pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is tender, a few minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the rice in oil and lightly toast it.

Add the sliced mushroom and wine mixture and bring to a fairly aggressive simmer over medium to medium-high heat. When the wine is almost all absorbed, begin adding the warm stock in ½-cup increments, stirring continually. As the stock is absorbed and cooks off, the rice should look increasingly creamy. Continue to add more stock. Taste the rice. It should still be a little crunchy but getting close to being cooked after 3 to 5 cups of stock have been added. Taste the risotto and add more salt if it needs it. If it’s still not cooked to your liking and you’ve run out of stock, add water until it is.

Meanwhile, reheat the wild mushrooms in a microwave or a separate sauté pan.

When your rice is al dente and you don’t need to add more liquid, lower the heat to medium and stir in the butter, continuing to stir until the butter has been completely incorporated. Stir in the cheese, top with the wild mushrooms, and serve immediately.