Why It Works
- We get an intense mushroom flavor by using a combination of well-browned fresh mushrooms and stock infused with dry mushrooms.
- A touch of soy sauce and miso paste brings out the rich, savory character of the mushrooms.
- Washing the rice with the stock creates a starchy liquid that delivers maximum thickening power during cooking, resulting in a creamier final dish.
Turning a classic mushroom risotto into a mushroom and asparagus risotto is as easy as it sounds: just add asparagus. The only key is knowing precisely when to add that asparagus for the best flavor and texture (hint: right at the end).
How to Get the Most Mushroom Flavor
We use a pressure cooker to cook our mushroom risotto, but it can just as easily be adapted for the stovetop using our almost-no-stir technique. I start by rehydrating dried mushrooms in stock. (In this case I used some dried morels that my cousin foraged in Montana.) This serves the dual purpose of tenderizing the mushrooms before incorporating them into the risotto and also infusing the stock with mushroom flavor.
Next, I sauté fresh mushrooms in a large pan with butter, olive oil, onions, and garlic. Here I'm using maitake mushrooms, but you can use any mushrooms you'd like. To give them a boost of umami flavor, I add a dash of soy sauce and miso paste as well.
Risotto Tips and Tricks
While the mushrooms are cooking, I rinse the rice in the mushroom-infused stock. Traditionally, risotto is toasted in fat before adding any liquid. This deepens its flavor, but it can also inhibit the thickening power of the rice's starch, resulting in less-than-perfectly-creamy results. To solve this, I like to rinse my rice in stock before toasting it. By doing this, you wash the excess starch off into the cooking liquid, which allows you to toast the individual rice grains more deeply while not affecting the starch's thickening power at all.
Once the rice is toasted, I start adding my liquids: a glass of dry white wine, which I allow to completely reduce, and then the mushroom-infused starchy stock.
Old-fashioned risotto recipes recommend you stir constantly with a wooden spoon. I sincerely believe that this technique was born out of Italian grandmothers wanting to keep little bambini occupied for half an hour. I've found that you can easily get away with adding almost all the liquid at once and only stirring it a couple of times during cooking.
Finishing Touches: Asparagus, Cheese, and Warm Plates
When the rice is almost done cooking, it's time to finally add the asparagus so that by the time the rice is tender, the asparagus is still bright green and crisp.
To finish it off, I stir in some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese along with chives and tarragon. I love the way the anise-scented tarragon pairs with asparagus.
And remember: risotto must—and I mean must—be served on hot plates! As risotto cools down, it turns from light and creamy to thick and stodgy, something a room-temperature plate can speed up. Your risotto ought to flow like lava from the first bite to the last. I preheat plates either in the toaster oven or in my regular oven set to around 225°F (110°C) for the ten minutes that the risotto is cooking.
Seriously, don't let a cold plate ruin your perfect risotto!
1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (1 liter)
1 ounce (30g) dried porcini or morel mushrooms (optional)
1 1/2 cups (about 300g) risotto rice, such as arborio or vialone nano
1 1/2 pounds (700g) mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini, oyster, and chanterelle, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons (50g) unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 6 ounces; 170g)
2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons (10ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15ml) light miso paste
3/4 cup (175ml) dry white wine
1 pound trimmed asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (450g)
1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream (optional; see note)
1 ounce (30g) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (about 8g)
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves (about 8g)
Place the chicken stock and dried mushrooms (if using) in a microwave-safe container and microwave on high power until simmering, about 5 minutes. Remove from microwave. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rehydrated mushrooms to a cutting board and roughly chop.
Add rice to chicken stock and stir with a wooden spoon to release starch. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a 2-quart liquid cup measure or large bowl. Allow to drain well, shaking rice of excess liquid.
Heat oil and butter in a heavy 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat swirling, until foaming subsides. Add fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until excess moisture has evaporated and mushrooms are well browned, about 8 minutes.
Add onion, garlic, and chopped rehydrated mushrooms (if using) and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated in oil and toasted but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. (Rice grains should start to look like tiny ice cubes: translucent around the edges and cloudy in the center.) Stir in soy sauce and miso paste until evenly incorporated.
Add wine and cook, stirring, until raw alcohol smell has cooked off and wine has almost fully evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Give reserved stock a good stir and pour all but 1 cup over rice. Add a large pinch of salt, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Stir rice once, making sure no stray grains are clinging to the side of the pan above the liquid. Cover and reduce heat to lowest possible setting.
Cook rice for 10 minutes undisturbed. Stir once, shake pan gently to redistribute rice, cover, and continue cooking until liquid is mostly absorbed and rice is tender with just a faint bite, about 5 minutes longer.
Remove lid. Stir remaining 1 cup of stock to distribute starch, then stir into rice. Increase heat to high, add asparagus, and cook, stirring and shaking rice constantly until asparagus is tender-crisp and rice is thick and creamy; add more stock or water as necessary if risotto becomes too thick and dry. Off heat, add cheese and stir rapidly to thoroughly incorporate. Fold in heavy cream, if using. Season with salt and stir in the herbs. Serve immediately on hot plates, passing more cheese and olive oil at the table.
12-inch sauté pan
You do not need heavy cream to make a creamy risotto (in fact, it's not a traditional way to finish the dish), but it does add a dairy richness that some will enjoy.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||33%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 12mg||61%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|