Cook the Book: Risotto with Mushrooms, Olives, and Leeks

Cook the Book: Risotto with Mushrooms, Olives, and Leeks

"The texture was perfectly creamy, as any good risotto should be."

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

For our final pressure cooker vs. traditional cooking methods face-off, I decided to focus on risotto. If you've ever made risotto at home you know making this dish is an involved process with lots of time spent stirring, gradually adding liquid to the cooking rice, and stirring some more. It takes a while and by the time your rice has reached the ideal combination of al dente and creamy, chances are pretty good that your arm is sore.

Lorna Sass, author of Cooking Under Pressure, claims that the pressure cooker turns out some of her favorite risotto with minimal stirring in under ten minutes.

It seemed crazy but every other recipe I tested this week turned out wonderfully. A Risotto with Mushrooms, Olives, and Leeks would tell me whether or not these lofty claims were true.

I prepped my ingredients, sauteed the leeks, and added the rice, mushrooms, olives, and chicken broth. I locked the lid of the pressure cooker into place and dutifully brought it up to high pressure.

Four minutes later, I unlocked the lid and lo and behold the rice and vegetables had been transformed into risotto. Even though the recipe calls for a few minutes of stirring at the end, my risotto was basically done after the pressure cooking.

The risotto was pretty much identical to other versions I've made without the pressure cooker in the past—there were no tell-tale signs of the abbreviated cooking. The rice still had a little bite to it and the texture was perfectly creamy, as any good risotto should be.

One more point for the pressure cooker. After a week of using my new pressure cooker, I'm starting to wonder if there's anything that this thing can't cook.

Win Make it Fast, Cook it Slow

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Cooking Under Pressure to give away this week.

  • Yield:6


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white part only, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 pound of mushrooms, stems reserved for another use, caps thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pitted, minced black olives, preferably oil-cured
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth or bouillon
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt (optional)


  1. 1.

    Heat the butter and oil the cooker. Saute the leeks until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat thoroughly with the fat. Stir in the mushrooms, olives, and 3 1/4 cups of the broth (watch for sputtering oil).

  2. 2.

    Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Reduce the pressure by placing the cooker under cold running water. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

  3. 3.

    The risotto will be fairly soupy at this point. Set the cooker over medium-high heat and boil uncovered, stirring vigorously every minute, until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender but still chewy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a bit more broth if the mixture becomes dry before the rice reaches the desired consistency. Turn off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and add salt to taste (if desired). Serve immediately.