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What does a chestnut risotto need?

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I thought I had this "great" idea to make a saffron risotto, but to add sliced chestnuts, because they're all over the place around here... then, because I wanted it to have a nice, earthy, flavor, I added some mushrooms. There was also some white wine in the recipe.

I ended up with a rather bland mishmash of things. It tasted ok, but the flavor just wasn't there. What did I do wrong? Should I skip the mushrooms next time? Is the saffron just plain unnecessary? Am I missing some magic ingredient?

Please help me make this recipe better! I'm so frustrated!!

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  1. I'm puzzled - how do you slice chestnuts? I think they would disintegrate. Did you cook them before adding them to the risotto?

    Did you add white mushrooms or wild mushrooms?

    What was in the risotto cooking liquid besides wine?

    Sorry I'm no help; I'm just curious re my questions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: souschef

      Well, slice is the wrong word, I guess I cut them into large pieces? They were the kind in the can, so I quickly threw them in with the mushrooms beforehand (I sauteed the mushrooms with some butter, garlic...then threw the nuts in at the end).

      The mushrooms were chantrelles and creminis.

      Used vegetables stock, in addition to the wine.

      Sigh. Maybe I'll just give up on this one. It sounded good in my head, but I think my head led me astray...:)

    2. With crimini mushrooms, chantrelles and chestnut, you should get a well flavored risotto. I would start sauteing onions, then add the criminis and chantrelles and saute before adding the rice, etc. Unless you want to keep it vegetarian, chicken stock will add more flavor then vegetable stock. Or at least use a mushroom stock. Taste the chestnuts as some have very little flavor. I like the vacuum packed imported Italian chestnuts. Finish with some grated Parmigiano will help.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        agree with all the above. especially either copious amounts of grated cheese or salt.

        soaking a few dried porcini and adding that liquid helps too.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          "soaking a few dried porcini and adding that liquid helps too."

          Took the words out of my mouth. When I make cream of mushroom soup I find this essential.

      2. and a little bit of thyme....

        1. jfood would have chosen either mushrooms or chestnuts, not both, two bold flavors fighting. And the saffron seems to be way too delicate to fight either of these. Jfood makes wild mushroom risotto all the time and depending on the variety will either make a duxelle or a quick saute (in a separate pan). But he always adds at the end, not at the beginning.

          One thing he was thinking of trying this winter was adding some red wine to one of the simmer-down steps instead of stock, and with mushrooms he was thinking a red versus a white. Just feels in jfood's belly that a slight backdrop of a bold red with the duxelle would make for an interesting combination.