Recipe: Mushroom Risotto, Three Ways

Hello!  Have you missed me?  I’ve missed you!  Unfortunately, I’ve been rather overwhelmed with work and other commitments of late, which is not conducive to creative cooking (though I do make a mean pasta bake in these circumstances.  Repeatedly.).

Anyway, I’m not out of the woods yet, but I did make a rather good risotto in my pressure cooker today, and since I am still excited by my pressure cooker, I decided it was about time I wrote down a recipe I made using one.  Especially as the recipe was originally designed for a slow cooker, because I’m a bit perverse that way.

I wanted to call this recipe Weird Experimental Mushroom Risotto, because it uses oyster mushrooms, which I hadn’t cooked with before, and also a pressure cooker, which is a bit counter-intuitive, but Andrew seemed to think that if I called it Experimental Mushroom Risotto, people might get the wrong idea about just what sort of mushrooms were in there.  So let me state up-front that this risotto is not at all psychedelic, a notion which had not, in fact, previously occurred to me, but which I now find mildly disappointing.  Just on principle.  Though probably psychedelic mushrooms wouldn’t taste that great in a risotto anyway.  Or would they just make the whole risotto taste of purple and trombone music? 

We will never know.  At least, not by means of anything in my kitchen.  This risotto tastes, to me, of brown.  I am not a particularly synesthetic person, but there is something about porcini mushrooms that tastes beautifully, richly brown to me.  I honestly can’t think of any other description of them that captures their flavour so well.  If you can’t get porcini mushrooms (and if you are in Melbourne, let me recommend the Mediterranean Wholesaler in Sydney Rd, who sell them quite cheaply), any dried wild mushrooms will work here, too. 

This risotto is as vegan or vegetarian as you choose to make it. I happen to have a freezer full of chicken and lamb stock right now (all this slow cooking invariably results in me making stock with the bones and the juices), so I used chicken stock.  The slow-cooking book that this recipe is vaguely based on suggests having this as an accompaniment for steak, which I could sort of see working, but honestly, it’s pretty wonderful winter food all on its own.

And really, ridiculously fast in a pressure cooker (though I’m giving you methods for slow cooker and stovetop risotto, too).

Also, you get absolutely heaps of risotto from this recipe.  Six servings would be my guess, and more if it is an accompaniment rather than a main dish.

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10 dried porcini or wild mushrooms
3/4 cup hot water
400 g of mixed mushrooms – I used 2 parts portobellos to 1 part oyster mushrooms, but choose whatever your favourites are
2 brown onions
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups of whatever good stock you have on hand, but please make it good stock.  You may want to have another 1/2 cup on hand, in case the risotto is too dry later. 
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Now what will you do with it?

First, put your porcini mushrooms in the hot water to soak, and set aside while you prepare everything else.  I’ve organised this recipe to make it relaxing to cook, rather than efficient, so you are doing all your mise en place first.

Slice your fresh mushrooms finely, and put into a bowl for later.

Chop your onions finely.

Measure out your rice, wine and stock.

Now, you can make this in a pressure cooker, or on the stove top, or in a slow cooker.  The pressure cooker is the most fun way, in my view, because it is spectacularly fast, but any of these methods will work.  One can also make risotto in the oven, but I’ve never tried it, so you’ll have to get that method from someone else.

If you plan to make this on the stovetop, heat your stock so that it is at a simmer.  If you are making it in the pressure cooker (make it in the pressure cooker!!!  Pressure cookers are awesome!!), you can heat it up a bit if you like, as this will make it cook faster.  You don’t have to do this for the slow cooker.

Melt half the butter in your pressure cooker (you want the rest for the very end), slow cooker or saucepan (you may need to start things in the saucepan if your slow cooker doesn’t have a ‘brown’ setting), along with the oil.   Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft.

While the onions are cooking, remove the porcini mushrooms from their liquid (save the liquid!) and chop them finely.  If the liquid is gritty, you will need to strain it through something cheese-cloth or tea-bag like, but I find that this generally isn’t necessary.

Add the rice, and stir for a minute or two, to get the rice nicely coated with butter and oil and onions.

Stir in the fresh mushrooms and porcini, and get everything nicely mixed together.

Pressure Cooker Method

Add in the wine, stock, and porcini mushroom water.  Season to taste (I didn’t season this at all, in fact, and it was fine).  Put the lid on your pressure cooker, and make sure the little valve is turned to airtight.  Bring the cooker to high pressure (this won’t take very long if your stock, rice and vegetables are all warm already), and cook under high pressure for 4 minutes.

Use this time to grate your parmesan and summon any wayward family members to the table.  Or to dress a salad, or whatever.

Release the pressure quickly (if you have an electric cooker, you do this by flipping the valve to exhaust, carefully avoiding steam burns, and waiting for the thing to stop hissing madly before opening the lid.  I believe the stove-top cookers require you to run them under cold water, but check the instructions).  My pressure cooker book warned me that risotto would be soupy at this stage and require more stirring, but actually, it was perfectly cooked, so I just stirred in the parmesan and butter and served it all up.  Actually, this isn’t strictly true – I forgot about the rest of the butter.  It was still fine.

If your risotto is still a bit soupy, taste it to see where the rice is at, and cook for a few more minutes, stirring, until you have the consistency you like, then finish with butter and cheese and any further seasoning you prefer.  Add more stock if you need to.  I like my rice just a tiny bit al-dente, and was pleased to find that this was what I got in four minutes.

Stove Top Method

You know this one.  Add the wine and mushroom water to the saucepan, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Stir constantly for a creamy consistency.  When the wine has been absorbed, start adding stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly, and waiting each time for the last ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is cooked and the risotto has the creamy consistency you are looking for, but is just a little on the liquid side (the cheese will thicken it).

Switch off the heat, grate the parmesan and add to the risotto with the rest of the butter.  Stir in well, then cover and leave for a minute or two to finish before serving.  I don’t know why you do this, exactly, but it does make the risotto taste better.

Slow Cooker Method

Add the wine to your rice and mushroom mixture and cook, stirring, until it evaporates.  If your rice mixture isn’t in the slow cooker already, now is the time to transfer it, and to add all the rest of your lovely liquids, and to season to taste.  Set the slow cooker to high, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring at the 45 minute mark (this is also a good time to see if you need more liquid).  At the end of the cooking time, check before serving that everything really is cooked and has the texture you want before adding your cheese and butter. You may need to give it a bit more cooking time.

Variations

What, you want more?  This risotto is, obviously, gluten-free, egg-free and nut-free, and is vegetarian if you use vegetable stock.  If you are vegan, you can replace the butter with oil or a dairy-free margarine, according to taste, and finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil or, better still, truffle oil or truffle salt, which would be *amazing* here.  You could also stir in chopped continental parsley, and this might also work rather nicely finished with a gremolata of lemon zest, garlic and parsley instead of the traditional cheese and butter.  If you aren’t avoiding dairy, by the way, this risotto would probably be amazing with blue cheese stirred in at the end.

Risotto rice has a high glycemic index; you can, however, make a risotto of sorts using barley and the same method, and a mushroom risotto is a really good flavour combination here.  Be aware that you need a *lot* more liquid for a barley risotto – about 8 cups in total for 2 cups of barley, so check what your pressure cooker, slow cooker or saucepan can hold before trying this, and adjust accordingly.  The pressure cooker cooking time for barley risotto is 18 minutes; I think on the stove you’d be looking at 45 minutes to an hour.  Slow cooker recipes for barley suggest that 2-2 1/2 hours might be enough.

I think this isn’t too bad for fructose, depending on whether you are OK with onions or not.  If you can have garlic, but not onions (which some people can manage), I’d use about 8 cloves of garlic here.  Or more, but then, I’m inordinately fond of garlic.

This time last year…

Recipe: Grilled Mushroom and Roast Pepper Sandwich
Recipe: Onion Soup for a Sick Day
Recipe: Lovely Rice Pudding for Dinner Again
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2 responses to “Recipe: Mushroom Risotto, Three Ways

  1. I totally get what you mean by mushroom risotto tasting “brown”, it’s like how, for me, raw broccoli tastes of “green” in a raw that cooked broccoli doesn’t. Head up for this stretch of work, dear Catherine! You’ll get there 🙂

    • And yet, oranges don’t taste orange in colour to me. Lemons taste quite yellow, though…

      (And thank you. I hope things calm down for you, too. Though I’m not sure that insane Cadbury chocolate – yes, I’ve tried it too – is calming, precisely!!)

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