Make room for mushrooms.
This wild mushroom risotto recipe makes an easy, elegant, earthy dinner. Naturally creamy arborio rice gets stirred with plenty of mixed mushrooms, shallot, wine, parmesan cheese, and butter for a truly satisfying dinner.
Meet this creamy wild mushroom risotto recipe.
I cannot think of a better way to lean into chilly fall and winter weather than by cooking an earthy, creamy mushroom risotto recipe. 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 assorted wild mushrooms and some pantry staples for a lovely, satisfying dinner.
The secret to good risotto is using arborio rice
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. The other option here would be carnaroli rice, another short-grain variety that will give you that good creamy starchiness.
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. Mushroom risotto, coming right up!
Which mushroom are best for a 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 this mushroom risotto:
- Black trumpet
- Hen of the Woods
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.
Don’t think that the term wild mushrooms means you have to go out and forage in the woods like you’re on a truffle hunt. This just means that you aren’t using some of the more conventional, farm-raised mushrooms like button or white mushrooms, but ones traditionally found growing in the wild.
What to pair with mushroom risotto: wine recommendations
This wild mushroom risotto recipe stands on its own. But the creamy, cheesiness of the risotto also makes a for a wonderful wine pairing opportunity. Mushrooms are earthy vegetables, as are the onions or shallot. 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 is generally a dry white wine, such as:
- Chardonnay with a little oak on it
- White Burgundy
- Pinot gris or pinot grigio
- Sauvignon blanc
- 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 this mushroom risotto recipe 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 liquid like white wine and the water or broth, plus shallot and other vegetables, and butter and parmesan to finish.
What to serve with mushroom risotto
I tend to think of this easy mushroom 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:
- Shrimp Scampi-Style Risotto
- Restaurant-Style Mexican Brown Rice
- Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie
- Creamy Stovetop Rice Pudding
Wild Mushroom Risotto
- 4 tablespoons good extra-virgin 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; you can also substitute yellow onion)
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 5 cups or so warm water or unsalted chicken stock or chicken broth
- 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 to medium-low heat if necessary; the olive oil should not smoke.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 or onion, 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 fresh thyme, 1 cup of warm chicken 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, and fish out the thyme sprig. (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 fresh sprig of thyme.