This creamy parmesan mushroom risotto is an earthy and hearty dish. Flavored with stock, thyme, mushrooms and topped with salty parmesan cheese this dish is comfort in a bowl. This easy and less intimidating approach to risotto does require a little attention, but in no way will you get an arm workout cooking it. The best part, whether you use these flavors or take this method and treat risotto as a blank canvas, it’s done in under 25 minutes.
It is time we get things straight, risotto is not hard to make. In fact I would say that making plain, perfectly cooked rice is harder than making risotto. Yet somehow making this creamy rice dish has gotten a bad rep. It has become one of the most intimidating dishes to make, hence why it’s a hot item to order out. Why? Because everyone has an opinion on how it should be made, the consistency, the pot it needs to be made in, and for the most part people believe that the only way to make a good creamy risotto is to sit over the stove and mix it the entire time. Which is false.
I can tell you after making risotto for years and doing extensive research that for every bold statement there is about how to make this creamy rice dish there is a debunk. You do not need to continuously stir or cook it in a wide shallow pan. A few things hold however:
You need to constantly mix to release the starches.
False, in fact over mixing can actually make your risotto gluey and thick. There is no magic number of how often you stir. I like to stir 2-3 times per broth add, and stir a bit more at the end to ensure it doesn’t start to stick to the pan.
You need a special wide pan for risotto.
Now I am not saying you can make it in a dutch oven but any low profile pan should work. Hell, I cook my risotto in a braiser and that has historically been seen as a no no. This idea of using a SUPER wide pan actually makes no sense since the stove flame is only so wide.
You MUST add wine
While I add wine to a lot of my risottos, this is actually one recipe I don’t. Some risotto just doesn’t need the additional flavor, and it is nice to not have to run out and get a bottle of wine to cook with.
Making risotto is hard
What is harder is measuring the perfect amount of water adding it to a pot of rice and cooking it absolutely perfectly. There is a lot of intuition needed to make risotto. Is the risotto to hard? Add more broth. Does it need more salt? Add more? Is it sticking? Mix it some more. Once you learn how to make risotto once, you will see it as easy as making pasta, a blank canvas ready for any flavor adaptation.
Wash the Rice
This isn’t a myth but I heard it floating around TT. Absolutely not. Washing the rice will strip the rice of the necessary starches needed to make this dish creamy.
What no wine? You don’y need it, especially for this recipe. A lot of risotto enthusiasts will say that wine is 100% necessary. Here’s the thing… it isn’t. I have some other great risotto recipes that do call for a nice dry white wine just not this one.
Wide Pan- The rice requires sufficient surface area for cooking. A broad sauté pan or a braiser are suitable for preparing this dish. Alternatively, a spacious skillet can also be used if you don’t have either of the former options.
Heat the Broth-It is important to have the broth warm on a side burner. A warm broth means even cooking which yields a better risotto. When you add cold broth to the risotto it takes time for the broth to come back up to temp.
Sauté the Base – In a pan over low-medium heat melt butter. Once melted add onions, garlic, mushrooms, thyme, and a 1/2 tsp of salt. Sweat and cook down for 3-4 minutes.
A lot of you came for me when you saw that the mushrooms simmer in the risotto the entire time. Yes, you loose a bit of the mushroom texture by simmering it but you gain so much more. This recipe is for mushroom risotto, not beef risotto topped with mushrooms.
Pro tip: Get extra mushrooms and pan-sear them while cooking the risotto to top it at the end and add some texture. Instructions: In a pan over low heat, add 3 tbsp of butter. Once melted, add 5-8 oz of sliced mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes until brown, leaving them mostly undisturbed, and mix halfway through. Finish with a heavy pinch of salt.
Toast the Risotto – Once the onions, garlic, and mushrooms have been sweated out add the unwashed rice. Do not wash the rice beforehand, you will strip all the necessary starches. Toast for 3-4 minutes until the rice has become semi-translucent.
Add Broth– There is no wine in this recipe so we go straight to adding the broth. Add warm broth to the risotto, but not all at once! For every cup of risotto, you need approx. 4- 5 cups of broth. Have extra on hand! I found with different brands of Arborio rice I needed + or – a cup. My rule of thumb is to pour just enough broth to cover the risotto, when the broth starts to dip below the grains it is time to add more.
Mix, Add, Shake – Mix 2-3 times per broth add. If you end up mixing more, no biggie! Also give the pan a shake midway to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom. I typically mix once right after I add the broth and like 2-3 times a few minutes later.
Add the Parmesan Cheese – In the last minute, right before all the broth has been absorbed turn off the heat. Always check before deeming it done. Just because you ran out of broth does not mean that the risotto is finished. You know it is done when the rice is loose but not runny, creamy, and al dente. Add in parmesan cheese and give it a mix. Serve immediately.
I hate to break this to you but risotto sucks at reheating. If you have leftovers however they can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the fridge. I found the best way to reheat is to plop (yes plop) it in a pan with a splash of broth to loosen it up. Add another splash of broth if it needs it and heat on low. Leftover risotto is however perfect to make fried risotto balls or arancini.
Craving more risotto? I got you. Below is the full collection of risotto recipes on the site.
Mushroom Parm Risotto // Kale & Pancetta Risotto
Lemon Parm Risotto // Cacio e Pepe Risotto
Spicy Vodka Risotto // Brown Butter & Sage Risotto
Creamy Tomato Risotto // Smoked Gouda Risotto
Lobster Risotto // French Onion Risotto