Mushroom Risotto – Fast, Fresh + Simple

Don’t be deterred by the myth that true Italian risotto is finicky. Enjoy this recipe for Fast, Fresh + Simple Mushroom Risotto.

During this strange and scary time in our planet’s history, I’ve been maintaining my sanity by cooking every day. “Work From Home” and “Home Chef” don’t have to be mutually exclusive — especially when you have the right recipes on hand.

Looking to feed your hungry QuaranTeam? I’ve got you covered with a savory, “Fast, Fresh + Simple” risotto that comes together in about 30 minutes.

Don’t be deterred by the myth that true Italian risotto is finicky — most of the ingredients for this dish are already in your pantry! This recipe requires no difficult cooking techniques, only your attention and a little patience.

Just add fresh mushrooms, herbs (in this case thyme), and Parmigiano cheese. If you don’t have access to the thyme, leave it out. I added dried Porcini mushrooms that I found in the back of my cabinet, which definitely amped up the umami, but are also completely optional. Domestic mushrooms will still yield a delicious outcome. And, if you’re low on white wine, you can always sub dry vermouth from the bar. If I had had some frozen peas, I might have tossed them in the pan in the last 5 minutes as well. Bottom line — this dish is quite forgiving in terms of adding and subtracting flavors. Use your imagination! Just remember to keep the rice-to-liquid ratio consistent.

Speaking of liquid, if you don’t want to make your own broth, feel free to use a good quality store brand. Or, if you want to keep things vegetarian, sub vegetable broth for the chicken broth, I like either Swanson’s chicken cooking stock or Kitchen Basics natural chicken stock. Don’t forget, this dish is mainly about the rice, no need to overthink it or get too fancy.

Risotto also happens to be an economical dish, since 3/4 cup of rice easily feeds 2 with leftovers. If you have more people in your shelter, no worries! You can double the recipe with ease.

Eat well and stay well, people!

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 2
3/4 cup Arborio rice
3 – 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or combination of broth and reserved strained porcini mushroom liquid)
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces button mushrooms, halved and sliced
2 TBS dried Porcini mushrooms (optional) reconstituted in 2C boiling water, reserving the strained water once mushrooms are softened
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
1-2 TBS butter
2-3 TBS good quality Parmigiano cheese, grated

Readily available ingredients.

Preheat a medium saute pan on medium heat with 1 TBS oil.

Add the button mushrooms and shallot sauteing for a few minutes until the vegetables start to wilt. Add the reserved porcini mushrooms (if using), thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Saute for another 3- 5 minutes, then transfer to a small bowl.

Sauté the shallots, mushrooms and thyme.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, heat the other TBS oil on the same medium heat, adding the rice and saute the rice grains, stirring constantly to coat each grain of rice with oil until they start to appear translucent a bit, and lose the chalky white color, for about 3 minutes.

Sauté the rice until it looks a bit translucent.

Add the reserved mushroom mixture, stir well.

At this point, continue to add small ladles full of broth (or reserved 2 cups of mushroom liquid and broth, if using) ladle full by ladle full, one at a time, while keeping the rice mixture at a lively simmer, stirring often, almost continuously.

Add ladles full of broth, one at a time.

As soon as one ladle full of liquid is absorbed into the rice mixture, add another. Continue this process for about 18 minutes in total, until the rice starts to look very plump and is cooked but still firm (al dente, or to the tooth). I like to taste the grains of rice to decide when the cooking process is complete to my taste. The rice should appear a bit soupy and the grains should be plump.

When finished, turn off the heat and add the butter to taste, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 of the cheese and stir again.

Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve the rice and sprinkle with the additional cheese just before eating.

Images: Hope Cohen

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