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The best tips for making mushroom risotto are to fry the Arborio rice along with some onions for around four minutes prior to adding stock, and to add the stock gradually, taking time to stir between each addition. Additionally, the mushrooms should be cooked separately and added towards the end of the cooking process. The Parmesan cheese and butter should be stirred into the rice while it is away from the heat.
A risotto is a creamy rice dish made with a special type of rice, Arborio. The rice is typically shallow-fried along with onions, and then cooked in a vegetable or meat stock for around half an hour, until the entire mixture has a creamy texture and the rice is cooked through. Risottos can be thought of as a base dish, and any additional ingredients the chef desires can be added as he or she wishes. For example, after constructing a simple base, any ingredients from mushrooms to lobster can be added to form a mushroom risotto or lobster risotto, respectively.
Although the dish seems simple to make, there are many things that can spoil a risotto, and for this reason, it is considered a difficult dish to make. The first essential tip for making a good mushroom risotto is to start by shallow frying onions or shallots in olive oil or butter and then frying the rice for around four minutes. This primes the rice for cooking, and results in a better texture when it comes to the finished dish.
The stock should be added slowly to ensure the rice cooks properly. The most challenging part of a risotto is the amount of attention it requires during the stock adding stage. When the chef begins to add stock, he or she must constantly stir the mixture in order to help the rice absorb the liquid. It is recommended that 0.5 cup (118 ml) of stock is added at the beginning and reduced to 0.25 cup (59 ml) towards the end. If too much stock is added, the rice can become overcooked; the ideal texture is "al dente" or slightly firm to the bite.
Many people disagree as to when the mushrooms should be added to a mushroom risotto. Generally, the consensus is that it is better to cook the mushrooms separately and then add them to the rice mixture to be heated just prior to serving. Adding them while the rice is cooking in the stock could result in over-cooked mushrooms. Some chefs suggest separately grilling the mushrooms, coated in herbs such as chervil, tarragon, or parsley, prior to adding them to the mixture. It is more common, however, to shallow fry them, set them aside, and then add them to the mushroom risotto with around two minutes left before serving.