Mushroom Saffron Risotto

Rich and Creamy Mushroom Saffron Risotto

It’s no secret to all who know me that I absolutely LOVE RICE. It came as no surprise that a few years ago I thought my world was coming to an end. Due to some health issues, my Dr. said I had to change certain things about my diet, one of which, was eliminating rice altogether. Needless to say, from that point on, my mission was to do everything I could to get better and bring “rice” (and everything else that was taken away) back on the menu. Long story short…mission accomplished.

Some of my fondest memories as a child were dinners at my grandmas house. I’m pretty sure I got my love for food and cooking from her. Thank you grandma! I remember playing with my cousins and all of a sudden stopping to take in the amazing aroma coming from inside the house. It always amazed me how she would cook every meal to perfection with ease. Of all the wonderful dishes she made, I cannot remember a single meal which, “rice” was not included and sometimes even took center stage as the star in one of my all-time favorites “Arroz con Pollo” (creamy yellow rice with chicken, garnished with green peas and roasted red peppers). By the way, this was the only way, they could get me to eat either of the last two ingredients. I will soon share more about that dish so stay tuned.

Let’s talk about what is Risotto

Risotto is a traditional Italian creamy rice dish made with a short-grain, starchy variety of rice called Arborio. Naturally, the first time I tasted “risotto”, I fell in love. There are many types of risotto but what makes it consistent is the method of cooking, which allows the rice to release its starch and gives it that creamy-rich consistency we all crave, right (my mouth is actually watering right now). My favorites include seafood risotto, mushroom risotto, butternut squash risotto and for an easy to make yet so comforting meal Parmesan risotto.

It’s really hard for me to go to an Italian restaurant and order something other than whatever risotto special they have on or off the menu. That being said, I have been craving all kinds of comfort food lately and it’s made me go crazy in the kitchen whipping up all kinds of deliciousness which lead me to sharing my take on Mushroom Risotto with you today.

The first time I made mushroom risotto at home, I followed the recipe by Ina Garten. She has been such an inspiration to me. Many of my family’s favorites come from her cookbooks (which I own every single one). When I first made this dish, I followed her recipe to the letter and it is absolutely glorious. One day though, when I wanted to make it but couldn’t get to the market, I had to use what I had on hand and it turned out so good. This is the version I am going to share with you in this post. I hope you and your family love it as much as I do. First let’s talk about…

Is Rice and Risotto good for you

Whenever I make a rice dish and I give the left overs to my fan club (my parents and sisters) I always get “the look”. You know the one I mean. I know in many weight loss diets out there, rice in general is a no no for reasons I don’t believe to make sense for all of us. I am NOT a dietitian so I did a little research to find some kind of evidence that would advocate the health benefits of rice so I won’t feel so guilty every time I’m enjoying a bowl. On WebMD I found there actually is a diet that’s been around since 1939 and gained a new wave of popularity when the Rice Diet Solution was published. It claims you’ll lose weight by slashing calories, sodium, fat, sugar, and protein, while cleansing and detoxifying your body. That is a win win win for me. Of course the plan has restrictions and includes fresh fruits and vegetables among other things as well as exercise. To read the entire article you can go to WebMD and look up The Rice Diet. This being said and noted 😉 there are low-carb diets out there which can promote weight loss and improve health for many people. However, this may not apply to everyone. My motto will continue to be “Everything in moderation.” Now that I got that out of the way let’s talk about…

How to make risotto

There are tons of recipes out there for risotto and I’ll be sharing all my creations with you because essentially it is rice which is basically a blank canvas that you can pair with just about anything, it’s fairly easy to make and it can be a meal on its own. The process for making risotto is a labor of love but if you have 20 minutes to dedicate, I promise it’s well worth the time and effort. The base for all risottos is rice and stock. There are four basic steps.

  • The first is to heat up the stock to a simmer. This is really important as when you ladle small amounts into the risotto as it cooks you want the temperature to remain constant. I use homemade stock for this recipe, but if you don’t have any a good quality, low sodium stock will be good too.
  • Next you melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot or a dutch oven. By the way, in all of my recipes whenever you see butter as an ingredient ( in case I forget to tell you later) I always use unsalted butter. If the risotto recipe calls for onions or another ingredient that needs to be sauteed, as this one does, you’ll want to do that at this point before adding the rice. Otherwise, stir in the rice making sure all the grains are coated in the butter (about a minute or two). If the recipe calls for wine, which most do, you’ll add that and cook for about two minutes. This will allow the alcohol to cook off. A rule of thumb for all recipes with wine, I only use wine that I will actually drink myself. This is so important for the final flavor of the dish. Besides most recipes only call for a small amount which leaves the rest for me to drink 🙂 If you prefer to leave it out all together, you can (it just won’t taste as good).
  • Reduce the heat. While stirring with a wooden spoon, begin to ladle in the stock. For the first time, add 2 ladles full . Allow the rice to cook (don’t touch it) for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on in to make sure it doesn’t dry up completely. Ladle about 1/2 cup or one ladle at a time, all the while stirring gently in between. Each time, cook until you see the liquid has been mostly absorbed, before adding more. You’ll continue this process for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente. You’ll know its done when the risotto looks creamy and thick from absorbing the stock. It should not be dry at all.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and any fresh herbs the recipe calls for. You’re done!

It’s as easy as that.

Dried Procini Mushrooms, Diced Pancetta, Arborio Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter( 1 stick)
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated

Directions

Sauted onions, pancetta and mushrooms
Stir in the stock mix a ladle at a time and stir every few minutes
  1. Place the dried procini mushrooms into a bowl with 2 cups of really hot water. Set it aside for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the stems of the baby bella and chop them. Wipe the caps with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Slice them and set these aside.
  2. Scoop out the porcini mushrooms, pour the liquid through a strainer and into another bowl. Chop the porcini in half and remove any stems. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside separately.
  3. In a saucepan, heat up the stock and the mushroom liquid to a simmer.
  4. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter. Saute the onions and pancetta for about 5-8 minutes until the pancetta begins to brown a bit and the onions are translucent. Add the porcinis and baby bellas and saute for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 ladles full of the stock mix, saffron, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until most of the stock is absorbed. Continue to add the stock mix 1 ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, wait until most of the stock had been absorbed before adding more.
  7. Continue this process until the rice is cooked through and there is a ladle of stock left, about 20-25 minutes. The risotto should be creamy and thick from absorbing all yummy stock and not dry at all.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the final ladle of stock and the Parmesan.
  9. Serve right away and don’t forget to sprinkle some extra Parmesan.
  10. Enjoy!
Best for a comfort food craving and to add to a fall menu
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Mushroom Saffron Risotto

Creamy dreamy risotto with mushrooms and saffron

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 oz dried procini mushrooms
  • 1 lb fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups liquid from mushrooms
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Instructions

  1. Place the dried procini mushrooms into a bowl with 2 cups of really hot water. Set it aside for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the stems of the baby bella and wipe the caps with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Slice them and set aside.
  2. Scoop out the porcini mushrooms, pour the liquid through a strainer and into another bowl. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside separately.
  3. In a saucepan, heat up the stock and the mushroom liquid to a simmer.
  4. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter. Saute the onions and pancetta for about 5-8 minutes until the pancetta begins to brown a bit and the onions are translucent. Add the porcinis and baby bellas and saute for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 ladles full of the stock mix, saffron, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until most of the stock is absorbed. Continue to add the stock mix 1 ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, wait until most of the stock had been absorbed before adding more.
  7. Continue this process until the rice is cooked through and there is a ladle of stock left, about 20-25 minutes. The risotto should be creamy and thick from absorbing all yummy stock and not dry at all.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the final ladle of stock and the Parmesan.
  9. Enjoy!

Notes

*You can omit the wine, if you prefer.

*To make this a vegetarian dish, you can leave out the pancetta.

*Serve hot and don’t forget to sprinkle some extra Parmesan cheese on top before serving.

 

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