As told to by Joe Amaral.
Authenticity is something you can’t make up. Especially when it comes to Italian food. This dish goes hand in hand with phrases like, “back in the good old days” and “they don’t make them like they used to.” Like most recipes that have been passed down for generations, Italian mushroom risotto takes time and patience. This is because its creaminess comes from coaxing the starch out of the rice, rather than using cream. To a chef who believes in preserving a recipe’s authenticity, using any kind of dairy would be like heating up pizza in the microwave. Even the basic ingredients are made from scratch. Seriously, don’t laugh when you get to the part about foraging for mushrooms. I recommend doing things the old-fashioned way to really get into it. Prepare the ingredients ahead of time, research a good wine, buy fresh vegetables (perhaps from a farmer’s market), and have a premium oil on hand to drizzle before serving. Because when you make authentic Italian mushroom risotto, this is just how it’s done.
6 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
450 grams Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
450 grams white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Step 1: Go out and forage for mushrooms.
Step 2: Make sure they’re not poisonous. If you’re not sure, break a piece off, rub a bit on your gum, and if it welts, it’s no good. *Just kidding. Leave it to the professionals and visit a farmer’s market.
Step 3: Bring the mushrooms home, leave out half for later, and make a stock. Dice up some vegetables and add them to it. You can use anything to suit your taste; onions, celery, carrots, green peppers. (Cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes.)
Step 4: Put a large pan on medium heat.
Step 5: Warm two tablespoons of oil in the pan.
Step 6: Cook the diced onions in the pan until they become translucent and white, not brown.
Step 7: Crank up the heat and throw your rice into the pan, coating it with oil and onions. Italians say that you should cook risotto with your ears, stir the rice until it begins to click.
Step 8: Temper the rice until all of it begins to click and pop in the pan. Just when you think it’s going to burn, throw in the white wine to lower the heat. Watch the grains absorb it.
Step 9: Walk away from the stove and wait for the temperature to come back up. Check your email. Sip some of the leftover wine.
Step 10: Use a wooden spoon to stir. Do this until it leaves a trail. Then add a ladle of stock. Stir some more. Repeat until the stock is gone which will be about twenty to thirty minutes. The rice should become creamy as the process goes on.
Step 11: When it gets close to the end, take the pan off the element, throw in the rest of the mushrooms and let the residual heat cook them. Stir and incorporate.
Step 12: Taste the rice. It should be al dente, it should give but not mush.
Step 13: Grate the parmesan to your liking. Add it with the heat off, otherwise it will separate.
Step 14: Put the lid on and walk away for a few minutes. Or throw a couple bowls into the oven to warm them before serving.
Step 15: Give the risotto a nice gentle stir. Drizzle the top with a truffle oil or premium olive oil. If you have some leftover mushrooms, put a couple more pieces on top with a couple curls of parmesan cheese.
Step 16: Take it to the table and enjoy.