Mushroom Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano and Fresh Italian Parsley

By 9 m read

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

What is risotto?

Risotto is comfort food. It’s very easy to make. Once you learn the basics of making a delicious creamy risotto, it’ll quickly become one of your staple dishes. 

 

To get you primed for your upcoming risotto adventures, in this article you’ll learn: 

 

  • Is risotto rice or pasta
  • The best rice for risotto
  • What white wine should you use in risotto
  • Best cooking pan for risotto
  • How to cook a basic risotto
  • How to know when it’s done 

 

And of course, how to elevate your risotto to the next level by combining it with some mouthwatering additional ingredients. In this case, we’ll make a mushroom risotto. But I encourage you to come up with your own combinations. And you will. Risotto on a cold winter day or rainy summer evening is a cheerful reminder that good food can be simple and delicious when done right. Good ingredients and the right cooking techniques are all that’s necessary. No high-tech kitchen equipment is required. 

 

Some people consider cooking risotto tedious. I think it’s fascinating. Seeing and feeling how a dry grain transforms itself into a creamy, perfectly cooked morsel of goodness is mesmerizing. Oh, and the anticipation…

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Is risotto rice or pasta?

Risotto derives from the Italian word riso (rice). But it’s easy to see why we sometimes think risotto is pasta. When we hear the word risotto, we think of Italian food. When we hear Italian food, we think of pasta. Risotto is pasta’s northern cousin. When we cook risotto, it even behaves like pasta. It’s starchy enough to create a creamy sauce.

 

The best rice for risotto

Like with everything else, you have to consider what’s the best, what’s affordable, and what’s available. In risotto, rice is the star. 

 

If you’re able to find Carnaroli rice, great! It’s a chef’s favorite. First developed in 1945, it has earned itself the title “il re dei risi”, ”the king of rice.” It has a relatively long-grain, contrary to most other risotto rice varieties, which are short grain. 

 

For most of us, Arborio will be the rice of choice. It’s short-grain rice, named after a town in northern Italy. It’s widely available, reasonably priced, and excellent for risotto. It absorbs a lot of liquid during cooking, but can quickly overcook. Keep stirring and tasting my friends.

 

The constant stirring releases the rice’s starch to create the creamy sauce, while maintaining its texture. The result should be a soft kernel of rice with a slight “chew” (al dente) in the center. 

 

Note: Because it’s the starch that makes the risotto creamy, never rinse the rice before using it. 

 

What white wine should I use in my risotto?

Ideally, one you’d like to drink anyway. Please avoid “cooking wines.” Besides their questionable quality and flavor, they contain salt and preservatives. I like to use a dry, crisp white wine. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or (unoaked) Chardonnay are perfect. And a bottle of good Sauvignon Blanc can always be found for around $10. If you don’t enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner, put the cork back in and it will last for 3-5 days in the fridge, even without using a vacuum device. Another good choice is getting a Sauvignon Blanc box wine. The bang for the buck is incredible and it will last for up to 6 weeks in the fridge. We highly recommend the brand Black Box (no affiliation). If you regularly cook with wine, box wine is an excellent way to go. 

 

Best cooking pan for risotto

A wide, straight-sided saucepan works best. It makes even and nearly constant stirring easy and ensures even cooking of the rice, while leaving ample space for the liquids to evaporate. The one you see in our photos is from a restaurant supply store that’s open to the public and cost about $15. And a wooden spoon works great for stirring.

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

How to cook a perfect basic risotto

Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan until you hear a light sizzle and the butter begins to bubble. Add 1 c of Arborio rice and stir evenly and thoroughly. You want to make sure that every single grain of rice gets coated on all sides, evenly. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. After a minute or so – when the rice gets glossy (not brown), add 1/2 c of dry white wine, enjoy the smell from the rising steam, and keep stirring. 

 

Once the wine starts to bubble, it will be absorbed quickly (within about 2 minutes), so make sure you have 4 c of beef stock warmed and ready. I use Knorr beef bouillon cubes. Add one ladle of stock at a time and stir. Watch the magic start. The rice will start to release its starch and simultaneously absorb the liquids. Adjust the heat so it’s barely boiling. Just a couple bubbles here and there.

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Once the liquid is absorbed, add another ladle of stock, stir, and repeat. Watch, smell, and taste. From adding the first ladle to the last, it takes about 25 minutes from start to finish.

 

Making risotto is an excellent lesson in the interaction of solids and liquids. You’ll learn a lot by just watching what’s happening while stirring. Taste, but be careful with adding salt too soon. The stock will add additional salt, and so will the salty Parmigiano Reggiano. 

 

How do you know when it’s done?

After about 25 minutes of playing risotto maestro with your wooden mixing spoon, taste the rice. It should be soft on the outside with a little chewiness on the inside. If it’s not ready but you used up all the stock, panic and order out! Just kidding. Add some water. If it’s perfect before you add all the stock, that’s fine too. There’s no exact amount of time-to-amount of stock ratio. Factors affecting the result are the type of rice, the type of saucepan, and the amount of heat. Don’t trust a recipe that tells you to do exactly this and that for exactly this and that amount of time – unless it’s baking, of course.

 

And here’s what I learned from my mother (although she’s not Italian, we grew up only about 40 miles from the Italian border in Switzerland; plus I’m sure this tip is nothing unique): when the rice is done, add (at least) 1 Tbsp butter and (at least) 1/2 c of Parmigiano Reggiano (the good stuff). Stir for about 2 minutes and add a couple cranks of black pepper (1/4 tsp).

 

You just made the best, creamiest, tastiest risotto that is simply excellent by itself or can be topped with nearly any meats, mushrooms, vegetables, or seafood. 

 

As a general rule, I recommend cooking any vegetables or meats that you would like to add to your risotto separately and in a separate pan. But every rule has an exception, so therefore I’m going with the exception 🤓:

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Mushroom Risotto

We start by cooking the mushrooms, removing them from the saucepan, and then cooking the risotto as described above in the same pan. Then, put the mushrooms back in the risotto and stir everything together. Number of pans to clean up: One. So here we go:

 

Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 c chopped shallots and cook for 2 minutes until translucent.

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Add 8 oz sliced mushrooms, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp dry thyme and/or sage, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook (simmer) for about 8 minutes. This gives the mushrooms time to first release their moisture and then, over time, reabsorb all the aromatic liquids. I call this “feeding the ‘shrooms.” If they get too dry, just add a little more olive oil.

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Once the mushrooms have absorbed all the liquids, taste them and add more salt if necessary. Remove from the saucepan and set aside. 

 

Next, cook the risotto as outlined above.

 

Once the risotto is ready in its creamy deliciousness, put the cooked mushrooms back in the risotto and stir it all together.

 

Sprinkle with some roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (wow, say that quickly ten times) and pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. You deserve it. 

What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

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What is Risotto Mushroom Risotto (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Mushroom Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano and Fresh Italian Parsley

What is risotto? It's comfort food. Once you learn the basics of making a deliciously creamy mushroom risotto, it’ll quickly become one of your staple dishes. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 2 main courses (or 4 to 6 side dishes)

Ingredients
  

Risotto

  • 1 c Arborio rice
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 4 c beef stock, warmed up (I use Knorr bouillon cubes)
  • 1/2 c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt, as needed

Mushrooms

  • 8 oz baby portobello (aka baby bellas, cremini, etc), thinly sliced to 1/4"
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c shallots or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried thyme and/or sage
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 c roughly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

Instructions
 

Basic Risotto

  • Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan until you hear a light sizzle and the butter begins to bubble.
  • Add 1 c of Arborio rice and stir evenly and thoroughly.
  • After a minute or so – when the rice gets glossy (not brown), add 1/2 c of dry white wine and keep stirring. 
  • Once the wine starts to bubble, it will be absorbed quickly (within about 2 minutes), so make sure you have 4 c of beef stock warmed and ready. Add one ladle of stock at a time and stir. Adjust the heat so it’s barely boiling. Just a couple bubbles here and there.
  • Once the liquid is absorbed, add another ladle of stock, stir, and repeat. Watch, smell, and taste. From adding the first ladle to the last, it takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. Taste, but be careful with adding salt too soon. The stock will add additional salt, and so will the salty Parmigiano Reggiano. 
  • When the rice is done, add (at least) 1 Tbsp butter and (at least) 1/2 c of Parmigiano Reggiano (the good stuff). Stir for about 2 minutes and add a couple cranks of black pepper (1/4 tsp).

Mushroom Risotto

  • Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Add 1/4 c chopped shallots and cook for 2 minutes until translucent.
  • Add 8 oz sliced mushrooms, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp dry thyme and/or sage, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook (simmer) for about 8 minutes. 
  • Once the mushrooms have absorbed all the liquids, taste them and add more salt if necessary. Remove from the saucepan and set aside. 
  • Next, cook the risotto as outlined in the Basic Risotto recipe above.
  • Once the risotto is ready in its creamy deliciousness, put the cooked mushrooms back in the risotto and stir it all together.
  • Sprinkle with some roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley and pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. You deserve it. 

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6 Comments
  • Jade
    January 8, 2021

    5 stars
    Oh yum I love mushroom risotto but could definitely use these tips.

  • Jennifer Provenza
    January 9, 2021

    5 stars
    Yum! I love risotto! Can’t wait to try it!

  • Jenny
    January 9, 2021

    Do suggest using fresh herbs or dry?

    • maplewoodroad
      January 9, 2021

      My personal preference is fresh, whenever available, but dried herbs work well too. 🙂