Make room for mushrooms.
This wild mushroom risotto recipe makes an easy, elegant, earthy dinner. Naturally creamy arborio rice gets stirred with plenty of mushrooms, shallot, wine, parmesan cheese, and butter for a truly satisfying dinner.
Meet this creamy wild mushroom risotto.
I cannot think of a better way to lean into chilly fall and winter weather than by cooking earthy, creamy mushroom risotto. Risotto is one of those “seems hard but really is very easy” recipes. Risotto requires surprisingly few ingredients. Plus, risotto makes an endlessly adaptable one-pot dinner. This version combines arborio rice with a big heap of wild mushrooms and some pantry staples for a lovely and satisfying meal.
Why arborio rice is used for risotto
Short-grain arborio rice has a lot of natural starch, which creates a creamy texture without having to add any actual cream, especially when stirred frequently.
After toasting and coating the arborio rice in an olive-oiled pan, white wine and garlic are added to the rice. The wine absorbs into the rice, creating a bright, acidic flavor base. Several additions of water or broth follow, until the rice is creamy and al dente soft.
Which mushroom are best for a wild mushroom risotto recipe?
Since mushrooms are the centerpiece ingredient of this mushroom risotto recipe, it is very important that your mushrooms are of good quality, and very flavorful. Translation: Avoid those white button mushrooms you see at the supermarket. Those are the stuff of pizza toppings and not much else.
Instead, choose one or (preferably) an assortment of wild mushrooms, or cultivated mushrooms that are traditionally found in nature. These mushrooms have better flavor and are much more interesting. My favorite wild mushrooms for wild mushroom risotto:
- Black trumpet
Some of these mushrooms are seasonal, and some are easier to find than others. The main point is to find a selection or mix of good mushrooms. I find the best selection at the farmers market and at Whole Foods.
What wine pairing goes well with mushroom risotto?
Mushrooms are earthy vegetables. Accordingly, earthy wines generally pair best with mushrooms.
The best red wines to pair with mushroom risotto:
- Pinot Noir (especially French, i.e., Burgundy)
- I wouldn’t mind a cabernet sauvignon here
The best white wines to pair with mushroom risotto:
- Chardonnay with a little oak on it
- White Burgundy
- Pinot Gris
- Champagne, if you want something to cut the richness and earthiness and offer a contrast
What makes a good, creamy risotto?
The simple truth is that risotto does not require much effort, or even many ingredients. But it does require a specific technique to become a good risotto. A good risotto should be creamy but slightly al dente, with flavor built from time and the slow addition of ingredients, from the initial hit of white wine to the water or broth, shallot and other vegetables, and butter and parmesan to finish.
What to serve with mushroom risotto
I tend to think of this easy risotto recipe as a meal in itself. But if you would like to add some protein on the side, I suggest:
- A good, classic roast chicken or roasted, bone-in chicken thighs seasoned with herbes de Provence or simple salt and pepper
- A perfect fried egg. Putting an egg on it always feels like the right decision.
- A rich fish, such as salmon.
Enjoy this lovely, seasonal mushroom dinner.
Love risotto? Check out these easy rice-based recipes:
Wild Mushroom Risotto
- 4 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 pound or so (can be a little less) mixed wild mushrooms, such as those listed above
- 1 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 2 large shallots, peeled and diced small (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 5 cups or so warm water or unsalted chicken stock
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal brand), or to taste
- 12 turns fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a little more to garnish
- 2 tablespoons butter
- In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Lower the heat a little if necessary.PRO TIP: You want to develop a little brownness on the mushrooms, so do not stir too often, especially at first.
- Set the mushrooms aside on a plate. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Add the arborio rice, shallots, and garlic. Stir, coating the rice, for about one minute.
- Add the white wine. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until most of the moisture is absorbed. PRO TIP: You'll know it's time to add your next round of liquid when the rice just starts to crackle and pop.
- Add the thyme, 1 cup of warm broth or water, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Stir, and cook until the moisture has mostly absorbed. Add the next cup of liquid. Stirring occasionally, repeat the process, cup by cup, until a total of 4 cups have been added.PRO TIP: You want to heat your water or broth before adding it to the risotto. Warm liquid prevents the risotto from cooling while it's cooking, which will prolong the cooking process.
- Taste the rice after the fourth addition of water or broth has absorbed. The rice should be soft but slightly al dente, and the texture thick but loose enough to not stand in a solid lump on a spoon. Think porridge. Add the remaining liquid as necessary, maybe a full cup or slightly more, until this is achieved.
- When the rice is cooked and the risotto has a porridge consistency, remove from heat. Stir in the mushrooms, butter, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pepper. Taste for seasoning. (You may need that final addition of kosher salt.)PRO TIP: Don't skimp on the parmesan. Get real-deal, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's a significant flavor component, so you want the good quality cheese.
- Serve with a bit of additional grated parmesan cheese, and perhaps a twist of pepper and sprig of fresh thyme.