Recipe updated. Originally posted 2004.
Risotto is one of those dishes that we love to eat, but neither my father nor mother have the patience to make often. It takes about 25 minutes of careful stirring, and every few minutes adding a half cup of hot stock to the rice, as the rice slowly absorbs the liquid it’s in. For this mushroom risotto, mushrooms are sautéed first, then cooked in brandy (or vermouth). Arborio (or any other kind of risotto rice) is cooked slowly with stock and when done, you stir in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. (Hungry yet?) I actually don’t mind watching over risotto, it’s easy enough to do, and you can prepare other things while keeping the corner of your eye on the risotto. The result is so worth the effort.
You will need at least 5 cups of stock to make this much risotto, but the exact amount will vary depending on how hot your stove is, how much you stir the rice and how wide your pot is. Your best bet is to heat up a full 7 cups of stock, so you don’t run out. You can use any leftover stock to loosen up the risotto if you need to hold it on the stove before serving. Risotto is best served immediately.
The recipe calls for risotto rice, Italian rice varieties that are high in a particular type of starch, with grains that are shorter and fatter than most other rices: Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are the most famous varieties. The high starch content of these rices yields a creamy texture when cooked.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 cups flavorful mushrooms such as shiitake, chanterelle, or oyster mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half inch to inch pieces
- 2/3 cup brandy, vermouth, or dry white wine
- 5-6 cups chicken stock* (use vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- 1/3 cup of peeled and minced shallots (OR 1/3 cup of yellow or white onion, finely chopped)
- 1 3/4 cups arborio rice or other risotto rice
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives
*If cooking gluten-free, use homemade stock or gluten-free packaged stock.
1 Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
2 Melt the butter in a deep, heavy, medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté about 5 minutes (if using chanterelles, dry sauté first for a minute or two and let the mushrooms cook in their own juices before adding the butter). Add the rice and stir to combine.
3 Add brandy, bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edges of the pan. Stir the rice almost constantly — stirring sloughs off the starch from the rice, making the creamy sauce you're looking for in a risotto. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. This process will take about 25 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.
4 Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chives.