Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish made with rice and hot stock with several different ingredients (such as mushrooms, seafood, and so on). It is particularly popular in northern Italy because that area is suitable for cultivation of rice. The best risotto should be creamy, rich, and with a just right consistency (enough cooked, but not mushy). Normally people cook risotto with special short-grain rice which contains a lot of starch and can absorb enough liquid. Those varieties include: arborio, vialone nano, carnaroli, and so on.
Porcini are one of my favorite ingredients especially for risotto because they have a unique woody flavor and aroma – though I love all mushrooms. It is easier to find dried porcini rather than fresh ones. If so, you can use not only the mushroom but also the soaking water as stock for your cooking. There is nothing to throw away. Cool, isn’t it?
Making risotto is not difficult, but it needs time. Anyway, you need to know the basic steps and some best practices. If you’ve never cooked risotto before, that’s fine. However, I suggest to read my tips and the additional links below as they will help you to better understand. Once you know how to cook risotto, you will be able to make it not only with porcini but also with other ingredients with minor modifications. Let’s see how!
Servings: 2-3 Preparation: 30 mins Cooking: 40 mins
- 25 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 l warm water
- 3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 230 g carnaroli
- 100 ml white wine
- 40 g butter, cut in small cubes
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan
- shaved parmesan for garnish (optional)
- Dried porcini mushrooms
Even though you can use fresh porcini, I prefer dried ones as they have a reasonable price and are easy to store, so then I can have it all year around at home. And I think it has much more mushroom flavor and a chewy texture. However, remember that dried mushrooms need to be soaked at least 30 minutes in advance – I recommend one hour.
- Risotto rice
I know there are tons of recipes for risotto that need different types of rice as brown rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice, and so on. However, I recommend you to use rice for risotto: arborio and carnaroli are the easier varieties to find in stores. As I mentioned, these varieties have much more starch and higher ability to absorb liquids.
- No cream
As you see, there is no cream on the list of ingredients above. That’s because risotto rice is itself enough creamy as a result of the standard cooking method. No cream, unless you use different varieties of rice.
- Hot stock
Adding cold stock into a pan reduces the temperature, so it might affect the cooking time and the doneness of rice. Keep the stock hot, but not boiling.
Wine should be in a drinkable condition. You can use red wine instead of white wine, even though it will affect the color of risotto as you can see in the picture below.
Here are some of useful websites for understanding risotto.
Let’s practice how to make porcini mushroom risotto!
- Remove dirt from the dried porcini by sifter and soak the mushrooms in a large bowl with warm water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Chop onion, cut butter into small pieces, grate parmesan, and prepare some shaved parmesan for garnish. Set aside.
- Drain the porcini mushrooms and collect the soaking water by filtering it through a cheese cloth into a pot. Heat the porcini water in a pot over low-medium heat as stock. Chop porcini mushrooms coarsely. Set aside as well.
- Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a big pan over medium heat and add chopped onion. After the chopped onion turns transparent, add the chopped porcini. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
- Heat up to high level and add the rice into the pan. Toast the rice by continuously stirring them with a wooden spoon for about 2 to 3 minutes until it turns pearly white.
- Pour white wine. Stir frequently until the wine has been absorbed. Do not cover the pan.
- Turn the heat down to medium level. Add a first ladle (100-150 ml) of warm porcini water, salt, and 3-4 small pieces of butter. Then keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed as shown here.
- Continue adding a ladle of the porcini water and 3-4 small pieces of butter at a time, stirring well for about 15-20 minutes. Do not add too much liquid at once, and keep in mind it should simmer and not boil.
- When risotto is al dente, take the pan off the heat. Then stir in grated parmesan and ground black pepper.
- Serve it immediately with shaved parmesan on top.
Here is my porcini mushroom risotto. If you’ve never made risotto before, this is the right recipe for you!