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Risotto-phobic seeks simple recipe for mushroom risotto (& tips)

My husband loves risotto, and I would like to make it for him on Valentines Day. Does anyone have a simple mushroom risotto recipe using few ingredients (mushrooms, garlic, onions, rissoto, EVOO, white wine & few others)? Also, any risotto tips? I have attempted it once before and it didn't turn out well. Thanks!

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  1. Can you elaborate a bit on what went wrong when you tried it before?

    If you have access to a copy of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything: The Basics, there's a real simple recipe in there for risotto. Until I tried his recipe I was sort of afraid to try it, too, but he makes it seem doable--and if you follow his direction it actually is.

    1. Let me try to help. I make mushroom risotto at least once a week.

      First, use 2 pots and one pan. Pan is for the mushrooms, pot one is for the stock, pan 2 is for the risotto.

      Buy an assortment of fresh wild mushrooms, buy chicken broth and vegetable broth (i use both for a deeper flavor and it's the boxed organic type.

      here's what i do and it's a little unorthodox.

      For 2 people

      - saute the mushrrom over low heat until moisture leave them
      - mix half veggie/half chicken stock in pot 1 and get to a simmer
      - saute about four Tablespoons of diced onion in EVOO over medium heat
      - add 3/4 Cup of risotto rice and stir for 30-60 seconds to coat the kernals
      - here's where almosteveryone adds wine until it evaporates i do not. M&M jfood tried both ways and prefer sans wine
      - add a couple of ladles of simmered stock (just enough to cover the rice) and turn the timer on for 18 minutes
      - stir until the stock evaporates at a high simmer and add more stock to cover the rice
      - when the timer has 5 minutes left add the mushrooms
      - at 3 minutes left taste the risotto for doneness
      - add a little stock at a time until you get the doneness/consistency ratio the way you like it.

      Now you need to decide whether to add cheese (parm or marscapone), butter, or both.

      We serve without either as we are watching the cholesterol.


      1. i LOVE risotto. i have to say, i love the relaxation of standing there and stirring. and there's this great transformative moment when the rice poofs out, and oh, the creaminess is divine (even before adding in more butter, more cheese). i didn't grow up eating risotto, have never eaten it in a restaurant, so i don't know what i'm doing, but i have to say, i'm hooked. but sorry, none of the above blah blah blah answers your question.
        one tip that they give in the zuni cookbook is to be very careful to choose excellent broth. the dominant flavor of your risotto will be that of your broth, and all of its flavor will be magnified and accentuated in the risotto. that hit home for me big time with the last risotto i made, which was so chickeny that i fully expected to find braised chicken chunks in it. if you don't have something you love, use water, and it'll still be great.
        the hazan mushroom risotto calls for an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms, which you soak in a cup of hot water. ultimately you add both the porcini soaking water and the soaked shrooms to the risotto. i can post more details when i have the book in front of me, if you'd like.

        1. I agree with rosewater, the main thing is to make sure you use good broth/stock, with little or no sodium. The flavor will be concentrated in the rice over the long cooking time, if you use crappy stock nothing else will matter. If you're making mushroom risotto, a vegetable stock is probably best. A few other tips:

          1. Use carnaroli rice if you can find it, instead of arborio.
          2. Stir it constantly, and use a big implement that can move lots of rice in each stroke. You can get away with stirring it less in the early stages, but the closer it gets to being done the more you need to keep stirring it.
          3. Test it for doneness after each addition of liquid has been absorbed (within reason, it will take at least 13-15 minutes).

          What exactly went wrong the first time?

          1. There were quite a few good tips and recipes on this recent round of discussion: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367466

            1. In addition to what people have said above, I taste before every addition of stock (well, after the first few). And, I know it's not authentic and people frown on it but I think it was Joe Pesto who suggested adding a little cream just before serving and it makes it very creamy.

              1. I'm not an expert chef, but I can do risotto pretty consistently. I asked the CH folks here and they gave me advice that worked great. Here's the nuts-and-bolts for how I do it.

                Use a big heavy pot with a wide bottom. Mine is rounded on the bottom corners, keeps the rice from getting stuck, but don't sweat it.

                You need a saucepan, a wooden spoon, a ladle, and another pan to cook your mushrooms in. Cook them first, in butter and maybe a little white wine? Your preference.

                In the saucepan keep chicken stock (I use out of the box) and white wine (in about a 2.5-1 ratio) warm, just below a simmer. You need to keep it warm; dumping cold stock into your rice will kill it.

                Put 2 tbs of butter (or EVOO) in the big pot, add garlic and onions (I omit onions, always hated them) and cook until translucent but not browned. Add all the rice, stir until coated by the fat, until all the grains turn kinda translucent and look "wet." (About a minute.)

                Keeping your heat medium-high, add a ladleful of the stock. Stir the rice until when you draw your spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see straight to the bottom. Then add another ladleful. You don't have to CONSTANTLY stir, but I wouldn't leave the stove area. Stir slowly and gently.

                Keep adding broth one ladleful at a time until it's gone -- this process should take you about 20 minutes or so. Then stir in the mushrooms (peas work well here too) and then fresh parmigiana. Don't put more than two ingredients (other than broth and cheese) into your risotto. It starts to get crazy.

                If you want to add something that can cook gently, like shrimp, add it in the beginning -- otherwise cook it beforehand and stir it in at the end.

                I've tried risotto with and without wine, and I prefer with -- it gives more of a "tang." But risotto is endlessly variable. I like it for leftovers -- peas and leftover Christmas ham was a good one. Or dark-meat turkey with asparagus.


                3 Replies
                1. re: Covert Ops

                  Great tips from everyone - the two things I found trickiest about learning to make risotto are (1) the heat level and (2) when is the rice done. I make mine in a LC dutch oven, use a small burner (gas) and a medium flame. If the liquid boils/simmers away too quickly, I think it's not getting absorbed into the rice. The second part is harder because I find it "turns" from perfect to mushy quite quickly, and so for me this is just trial and error. Also, I think the heat is retained in the rice, so that when you're adding ingredients at the end and bringing it to the table, it's still "cooking" a little bit. The tasting is definitely the trick to it being done - not the amount of time. Good luck!

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Y'know, Ruth, a few times my risotto, instead of being "al dente," came out a little chalky-textured on the inside. I wonder if that's a factor of my heat being too high. . .I'll lower it next time and see how it goes. :-)

                    1. re: Covert Ops

                      need to continue cooking for a few more minutes. That's why i taste at 1 minute intervals after 15 minutes.

                2. I didn't heat my broth when I made it, so maybe that was the problem. I will try it exactly as suggested and report back. Thanks!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Main Line Tracey

                    Having the temperature of the broth is very important. You wantthe cooking to continue when you add versus stop and start at each broth add.

                    1. re: Main Line Tracey

                      Yes -that is key - I keep mine at a bare simmer next to the risotto pot.

                    2. Good tips but I have to disagree with something said by Covert Ops (sorry, no offense!): If you add something that needs to cook gently at the beginning of the process it will be completely obliterated and indistinguishable by the time the risotto is ready to eat. The examples that come to my mind are fresh peas, corn, or asparagus, or seafood like rock shrimp, crab, etc. These are things that can be added at the last minute without separate cooking - indeed, depending on the volume you can add these things after you take the risotto off the heat, otherwise they will overcook to my taste. (Sorry if I misunderstood your point.)

                      1. I think I can help you guys here. A few key things haven't been mentioned. First, do not mix the wine and stock unless you want your risotto to be unbelievably tangy. Only use the wine in the first stage, and don't use more than 1 cup per 4 servings. If you use dried mushrooms, the water you soak them in should be the next liquid you use (filter it first), followed by your stock. Also, no one mentioned the all-important last stage -- when your risotto is 1-2 minutes shy of al dente, take it off the heat, mix in your butter/parmesan (or don't) and cover for 1-2 minutes. This stage is called "mantecatura" and it is crucial to the consistency and doneness of the risotto; as MMRuth/CoverOps mentioned, risotto goes from less-than-al-dente to overdone very quickly. Mantecatura solves this by letting the risotto slowly finish the last 1-2 minutes of its cooking away from the heat. It also helps the the flavors to infuse.

                        Btw, generally speaking, in Italian cooking the soffrito usually contains either garlic or onions, not both (in this case I would use garlic). The classic mushroom risotto also calls for a bit of parsley as part of the soffritto.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mangiatore

                          I agree about the wine - I add about 1/3 - 1/2 a cup after the rice is coated in the butter and let it reduce quite quickly.

                        2. http://www.theepicentre.com/tip/risot...

                          I just had to look up the term mantecatura and came up with this website you might find useful.

                          1. Thanks everyone -- I'm finding more and more ways to make my risotto better! Keep it coming! :-)

                            1. RISOTTO SUCCESS! My husband loved it. It made for a VERY happy Valentines Day.
                              To recap:
                              I did 3 different pans/pots as suggested. One for hot mushroom broth, one for making risotto, and one to brown the mushrooms.
                              I used EVOO and sauteed onion on medium-low heat. Added rice and heated through for 2/3 mins, coating grains with oil. Added 1 1/2 cups of broth and set kitchen timer for 20 minutes. Stirred constantly until broth was absorbed and then added 1 cup more broth. Repeated until each was absorbed.
                              As risotto was 5 minutes away from being done, I browned sliced crimini mushrooms in pan over medium heat. When risotto plumped up (and wow it did) and was done, I stirred in mushrooms, chopped parsley and fresh Parm cheese.

                              It was awesome! My husband took leftovers for lunch today. Thanks to all who added comments and suggestions.
                              Tips I found essential:
                              -Use 3 pots/pans. Hot broth in one, risotto in one (shallow, wide bottom, heavy) and another to brown veges/meat
                              -The broth will be concentrated so USE GOOD BROTH
                              -Heat the rice through when in oil before adding broth
                              -Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes (this helped impatient me to better gauge the time)
                              -Adding little broth at a time while stirring is essential, because that allows the grains to rub together and release starch, causing the "creaminess" of risotto.
                              -Medium/low heat is best, as higher heat will cause liquid to evaporate too quickly. Too low heat will not cook rice quickly enough.
                              -Cover and remove from heat when almost done, and after additions have been stirred in

                              Thanks again!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Main Line Tracey

                                Glad it turned out well, especially for Valentines. Next time you might consider the white wine step to take your risotto to another level. I think the white wine makes it taste a bit more sophisticated. After you toast your rice kernels, add a small glass of dry white wine (should be good enough that you'd drink the wine with dinner) and let it burn off the alcohol and be absorbed by the rice. After maybe 2-3 minutes when the wine is almost all absorbed, add in your broth and continue with the cooking process with a little bit of broth at a time.

                                Also, another element to add are herbs or saffron. I usually add these after the white wine burns off and as I'm adding the broth. With mushroom risotto, rosemary might be nice.

                                1. re: singleguychef

                                  I agree with singleguychef. The wine makes it a more well-rounded dish -- helps to balance the flavors. However, adding too much is one of the easiest ways to ruin a risotto.

                                  1. re: singleguychef

                                    The first time I made risotto, I didn't have any wine, except elderberry which didn't sound like it would be appetizing, so I used a bit of brandy, maybe half as much as I would use if it had been wine. It was still very good.

                                  2. re: Main Line Tracey

                                    Next time, try making Riso al Salto with the leftovers. Just form it into a few patties and pan-fry them.

                                    1. re: Main Line Tracey


                                      That's GREAT news. Glad you picked and chose from various pots. The white wine step seems to have some buyers and sellers. I tried it once (not with a very good wine tho) and did not like it as much. Try both ways and see which you and DH like best.

                                      Try different broths, different ingredients, etc. It's a wonderful base for some good homey cooking, especially while the weather is sooooo bad.


                                      1. re: jfood

                                        The only wine I keep in my house is usually Riesling, I think that might have had an effect on it. (I don't use wine in my cooking unless I love to drink it. . .)

                                    2. when in a pinch, the Trader Joe's frozen mushroom risotto is very eat-able...the kids love it...you can doctor it with a drop of truffle oil, some reggianno parm, add fresh shrooms, etc.
                                      If time allows, there is no substitue for the real mc coy but we always have a couple of bags in the freezer for those throw together emergencies that inevitably come up...

                                      1. At the end of cooking, when I'm stirring in my sauteed mushrooms and parmesan, I also add a scant handful of walnuts (not chopped). It's a secret I learned from a friend who used to be a chef. Pushes the whole thing over the edge into a new realm of deliciousness.

                                        And I agree, the white wine is an essential step in risotto.

                                        1. I took a cooking class sponsored by Food and Wine Magazine on Holland America's flagship the m.s. Rotterdam in the Baltic last fall and the executive chef who taught the 12 of us made the best mushroom risotto I've ever had. He did not measure the broth, per se, but rather showed us how to scape the *spoonula* (half spoon/half spatula) across the bottom of the pan. If the sides part and you can see the metal of the pan after the spoon has been moved across it, it is time to add more broth. Works for me everytime :--)

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: pilotgirl210

                                            Yes - I like to use a flat-bottomed wooden spatula, rather than a spoon - that way I move more of the rice around when stirring.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Exactly. What the chef (and I) use is a silicon half spatula, half spoon but the bottom of it is flat. You can really tell when it is time to add more broth when you use that utensil, because as you push it through the rice, the rice doesn't rush back in to fill the area behind the spatula. This little trick has really helped me not make the risotto too thick or too thin.

                                          2. Personally, I like to add dry sherry or red wine with a wild mushroom risotto

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jcanncuk

                                              Doesn't the red wine discolor the rice?

                                              1. re: ballulah

                                                Well, it gives it a different color, if that's what you mean, but it doesn't look ugly -- it's just pink. Lots of risottos come out pink (risotto al barolo, risotto al radicchio trevigiano, etc.).