Wild Mushroom Risotto

It might be kinda hackneyed but it’s damn easy and damn good: It’s still one of those go-to recipes that will never cheat me and is guaranteed to put a smile on Maiju’s face.

How could you resist making this here in heartland mushroom country? Finns are a nation of prehistoric forest-dwellers. And mushrooms and berries are the culinary jewels of the forest. It’s one of the few gastronomical areas where Finland beats my homeland. By a wide margin no less – Kiwis don’t know anything about it, if it’s not white and button shaped. The mushies here, on the other hand, are something I pine for in spring, something that almost, almost makes me make look forward to the bleak, steadily darkening autumn.

It’s actually a bit hard for me think of proportions here as I’ve made this so many times that I never measure anything but it goes something like this:

  • arborio or carnaroli rice – in terms on rice to mushroom ratio I’d say about half and half uncooked mushrooms to uncooked rice. The rice swells to 2 to 3 times and the mushrooms shrink as they loose their moisture. Basically adjust the rice to the amount of people you have and everything else in proportion.
  • mushrooms. Use one or a mix. Portobello will give you a lovely deep, chocolately brown risotto (and of course taste lovely too). Cepp: obviously awesome. Chanterelles are also lovely (and will give you a lovely caramel colour). I normally also use about half wild to half white button aswell, as well, you need quite a lot mushies and wild mushies aren’t overly cheap. I wouldn’t make this with just white buttons though – they don’t quite have the body to carry this dish. You can also make this successfully with dried mushrooms. Just soak them according to instructions. And use the soaking water to make the stock with.
  • 3 or 4 diced shallots (onion is fine if you don’t happen to have shallots on hand)
  • salt and black pepper
  • on the order of a litre of vegetable stock. Just make sure you have more than enough in the cupboard as it varies quite a lot how much you’ll need depending  on the amount of rice. And check that it’s gluten free of course.
  • about 50g butter
  • a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • a glass of white wine
  1. dice or tear the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.
  2. finely diced the shallots.
  3. place a pot on the back burner, add water and stock powder and bring to a simmer (just follow the directions on the stock package for the correct proportions).
  4. place a large pot on the stove, next to the stock pot and put it on a medium high heat.
  5. add about a tablespoon of oil and add the diced shallots.
  6. when the shallots have just softened, add your mushrooms and some salt and black pepper. And perhaps a little more oil, if it looks like they’re sticking.
  7. once the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture and gained some colour add a touch more oil, your rice, stir to coat and then add your white wine.
  8. once the wine has evaporated (this only takes a minute or so), turn down to a medium heat and start adding stock. The rule with the stock is: their should only ever be so much stock in the risotto so that it’s, at max, just covering the rest of the ingredients. And you should continue stirring regularly and adding stock when necessary. You might very well run out of stock, so when it looks like you’re running low, make up some more in the other pot.
  9. after about 30 minutes or so the rice should start to become ready. The exact time depends on the amount of rice you have. You can tell roughly by looking, you will notice the stock liquid become thicker and the rice expand and become more translucent. The official test though, is to taste ;) The rice should be soft-ish, with a little resistance left.
  10. When the rice is ready, make sure there is a some stock left in the risotto, take the pot off the heat and add the butter and cheese. You want there to be some liquid there, not too much but just enough so that when you add the cheese and butter, this and the rice starch will give you that lovely, creamy risotto sauce.
  11. Double-check the seasoning (different stocks will have different salt content) and serve.

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