No constant stirring, no dairy: This double-mushroom risotto defies conventional wisdom

Let’s get a couple of misconceptions about risotto out of the way: First, I hope you’ve heard by now that the whole standing-and-stirring-forever myth is just that. Good risotto doesn’t require such constant attention. Second, I realize this is heretical to purists (don’t @ me), but you also don’t have to use dairy butter and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano to enrich it. When I served this version to tasters recently, not a single one picked up on the fact that I had employed vegan butter and vegan Parm; they were too busy verbalizing, in between bites, how delicious it was.

The dish’s intoxicating creaminess, after all, comes mostly from the rice itself, and here’s where substitutions won’t do. You have to use a short-grain, starchy variety such as Arborio (or the harder-to-find Carnaroli or Vialone Nano) because the alchemy happens when the rice gradually absorbs the broth and simultaneously releases its starch.

The broth, too, is crucial. Use something homemade, if possible, and infuse it with a powerful ingredient: Dried porcini mushrooms. When they soak in hot broth for just a few minutes, they release much of their flavor, and the liquid — which you add gradually — carries it right into the grains of rice. After the mushrooms rehydrate, you drain them, chop them and add them to the risotto base, too, along with the requisite aromatics. This one gets topped with sauteed cremini mushrooms to double up on that earthiness.

I need to mention a few more requirements for perfect risotto. Keep the broth hot as you’re stirring it in. Stop cooking while the rice is still a little al dente, not mushy. And make sure that your risotto isn’t too stiff, which is especially crucial if it will sit for more than a minute or two before serving because it tends to tighten up. If need be, practice ladling some into a shallow bowl; it should spread all the way flat, and if it doesn’t, scrape it back into the pot, stir in a little more broth to loosen it, and try again. You’ll be glad you did.

Porcini Risotto

Servings: 4 (makes about 5 cups)


1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
4 to 4 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable broth
2 tablespoons vegan butter
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Leaves from 2 stems thyme, chopped, plus more for optional garnish
1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves, plus more for optional garnish
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup vegan Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Combine the dried porcini mushrooms and broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook until hot. Turn off the heat, and let them soak, to rehydrate, for at least 5 minutes. Use a fine-mesh strainer to scoop out the mushrooms, press on them to extract as much liquid as possible, and transfer them to a cutting board. Coarsely chop them.

Line the strainer with paper towels, and place over a large …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle


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