mmm… mushroom risotto

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(click on image for larger view and more photos)
mushroom risotto I believe I mentioned that we neglected to have shroves on Shrove Tuesday because we were too busy stuffing our faces with risotto….

Initially, we planned to have buckwheat crêpes stuffed with creamed ham and spinach again (we had the crêpes a few nights later… I hope the Lenten police won’t come after us for having shroves out of season!). But I had been thinking of risotto ever since reading the delightful Paz’ post about rice. She wrote:

I’m a riceaholic. Yup, I love rice. It’s a staple in my home and I have to eat it at least once a week.

We love rice too. Probably as much as Paz does. Our staple rices are long grain – Thai (Jasmine) rice or Basmati. But when the weather is right, as it was on that Tuesday in February before the insane cold hit, short grain Arborio was the rice we reached for. Because there’s nothing more wonderful on a cool evening than a grilled chop with risotto. So off we headed to the market to get some broccoli and chops.

We almost always have chicken stock in the freezer but canned chicken stock works almost as well. And the mushrooms? We’re not certain what kind of mushrooms we use. We buy them in Chinatown. They look like porcini and taste like porcini but are a fraction of the price of dried porcini mushrooms sold by the grocers in Italy Town.

Mushroom Risotto for 2

Note that measurements will vary.

  • 4 or 5 dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 4 c chicken stock, more or less
  • olive oil
  • ham, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • seasalt and pepper, to taste
  1. About an hour before (or in the morning of the day for risotto), pour just-boiled water over dried mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl – just enough water to cover the mushrooms. Place another heatproof bowl over top to keep the mushrooms under the water.
  2. When it is time to make the risotto, drain the mushrooms. Reserve the mushroom liquor. Chop the mushrooms.
  3. Gently rinse arborio rice in cold water and drain.
  4. Heat chicken stock and leave on a very low simmer.
  5. Fry onions and ham in olive oil til the onions are transluscent.
  6. Set the burner to medium low heat and stir rinsed arborio rice into the onion mixture, making sure that all the rice kernels get covered in oil.
  7. Stir in mushroom liquor until it has almost become encorporated into the rice.
  8. Gradually stir in stock, adding a little at a time until the rice is the consistancy you like. Make sure the rice always stays quite soupy as it tends to firm up after serving. The amount of stock will vary depending on the weather and humidity. If you run out of stock, add some water or a little white wine. Many recipe books say to stir constantly, but it’s okay to leave the rice to bubble very gently and stir from time to time.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

N.B. Parmesan cheese is counter-indicated with mushroom risotto. There are plenty of intense flavours already.

Serve risotto with a steamed green vegetable and a grilled chop.

mushroom risotto

(click on image for larger view and more photos)

At last the snow is melting and we can see our patio stones again!! This is great news because it means we can uncover the barbecue and have grilled chops again tonight. This time, we have made a reduction of the chicken stock and will serve the chops on a bed of reduced stock with oven roasted potatoes and stir-fried onions garlic and collard greens…. Whoohoo!!! (Don’t tell the Lenten police about our latest dietary transgression please.)


edit May 2012: A very reasonable (virtually identical) facsimile can be made with barley instead of rice.

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