Creamy, rich and cheesy, with a bright note from herbs and a touch of lemon. My simple chicken of the woods risotto recipe is a great, flexible recipe to learn when you're craving a good bowl of wild mushroom risotto.
I've been making risotto since high school. After that I trained under 4 chefs from Italy so I know a few things about risotto and have a few strong opinions on the subject. Before you start, here's a few pointers:
- Make sure your mushrooms are young and tender.
- Par cooking risotto rice like chefs do will save time and the risotto can be cooked in about 15 minutes for a quick meal.
- I like finely ground grated parmesan. Flakes or long strands of cheese can become gluey. Make sure to add the cheese off the heat at the end.
- Homemade, lightly seasoned chicken or chicken of the woods mushroom stock is the best as you can control the salt. If you use boxed chicken stock, cut it with ⅓-1/2 water to prevent it from becoming too salty.
- Carnaroli rice is what I prefer, but arborio risotto rice is fine.
- Risotto is always served loose and juicy so it sits flat in the bowl, (called sull'onda in Italian) it is never mounded in a pile.
Step By Step
The process is the same as typical risotto, but I prefer to par-cook the rice beforehand which makes it so the finished dish can be completed in about 10-15 minutes when you want to serve.
Par Cooking the Risotto Rice
If you want, you can skip par cooking the rice, if you do, par cook the chicken mushrooms in a pan and add them to the rice when you begin adding the stock. The images below describe the process.
Finishing the Risotto
Once the rice is par cooked the risotto can be cooked from start to finish in about ten minutes. You'll start by cooking your chicken mushrooms, then adding the pre-cooked risotto rice.
When the rice is tender, add the peas, herbs, butter and lemon zest.
Finally, off the heat, add the parmesan cheese and stir vigorously before serving.
Other Things to Make with Chicken of the Woods
Chicken of the Woods Risotto with Peas and Basil
- 1 3 quart sauce pot
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 cup carnaroli or other risotto rice
- 4 cups hot chicken stock *see note
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon light olive oil
- Small handful of torn basil leaves
- ½ cup peas or a handful of spinach
- ⅓-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino
- Kosher salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 4-6 oz chicken of the woods mushrooms
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- A small handful of torn basil leaves
- A few scrapes of fresh lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or more to taste
- 2 oz finely chopped yellow onion or shallot
- Heat the oil in a 3 quart sauce pot, add the onion or shallot and cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until translucent.
- Add the rice, stir to coat with the oil and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the wine.
- Increase the heat to medium high and add ladles of chicken stock, about 4 oz (½ cup) at a time, cooking until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle.
- After half of the stock has been added the rice should be about half cooked. From here you can spread the rice on a tray to cool so it can be heated up quickly, or continue cooking.
- In a separate pan, heat another tablespoon of oil and cook the mushrooms until wilted and season with a pinch of salt. Add the mushrooms to the rice, and continue cooking, adding the rest of the chicken stock until the rice is just tender and cooked through.
- Add the peas, butter and basil and heat through. Turn the heat off.
- Add the cheese, lemon zest and juice and stir vigorously. The risotto should be juicy enough to lay flat in a bowl. Double check the seasoning for basil, lemon and salt, then serve immediately. Garnish with a few tiny basil leaves if you like.