The off-season is the time to use up your dehydrated fungi stash, and one of the most tried and true crowd-pleasers is a risotto with dried wild mushrooms, or “rizzo” (after the Wu-tang artist Rza) as it’s been affectionately called in a number of kitchens I worked in over the years.
Risotto is one of the best places for your dried mushrooms to go, and each mushroom species will add a different character to the finished product. But, before you go getting super creative and throwing all kinds of types in together, know that some mushrooms will overtake the flavor of others. Depending on what you’re going for, this can be good or a let-down.
For example, adding even a small amount of strongly aromatic dried boletes like anything from the Suillaceae (slippery jacks) or European porcini, will take over and it will be hard to pick out individual species from the blend. Sometimes I like to have a blend, especially with stronger dried boletes, or if I’m trying to use up small amounts of various species, sometimes I don’t–it’s really up to you. But, if you want to have a risotto that features a single mushroom, using only dried mushrooms of the same species will give you the purest flavor.
This recipe is really simple and dressed down, so think of it as a blank slate for riffing on. If I’m serving it as an entree, I’ll add some chopped leftover meat, a little sausage, or I might ladle a ragu of something over the top. I’ve put a few ideas and variations in the recipe notes for you. You can make just the bare bones version though, and it will be great, and especially good if you reserve some of the dried mushrooms to fry in butter and spoon on top when it’s done, as I have pictured.
Dried Mushroom Risotto
- Wooden spoon or spatula 10 inch saucepot or similar
- 40 grams dehydrated wild mushrooms roughly 2 cups of dried mushroom slices
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 cups stock highest quality possible, preferably homemade
- ¼ cup shallot diced small
- 1.5 cups risotto rice like carnaroli, arborio, baldo, etc
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Splash of cooking oil
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup grated parmesan plus more for serving
- Fresh chopped Italian parsley to garnish, optional
- Add the mushrooms to the stock and rehydrated for 30 minutes, then agitate to remove grit and swish them a few times, remove the mushrooms, strain the liquid and reserve both separately, keeping a handful for a finishing garnish if you like.
- Coarsely chop the mushrooms, aiming for sizes that will fit on a spoon. In a wide pan, say 10-12 inches diameter, sweat shallot on medium-high heat in the oil until translucent, then add the rice, stir to coat with oil and cook a few minutes more. Don’t allow the bottom of the pan to color.
- Add the wine, mushrooms and salt, and cook until the pan is nearly dry, then begin ladling in the stock gradually in ½ - ¾ cup increments, waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding the next lade.
- When the rice is just barely cooked through, add 4 tablespoons of the butter, the parmesan and parsley, stir vigorously until incorporated, taste and adjust the seasoning for salt if needed, and adjust the consistency with a little extra stock. You may have extra stock leftover--that’s ok.
- The flavor should be mushroomy, cheesy, and delicious, and the risotto itself should be thick and creamy, but also flowing and loose. Portion the risotto into soup bowls. Jiggle the sides of each bowl after plating so that each bowl of risotto is flat. Serve. Pass some grated parmesan at the table.
- Scallions and chives
- Cooked pearl onions
- Caramelized onions
- Ground meat or sausage
- Leftover cooked meat, especially chicken or turkey
- Pecorino instead of parmesan