Dried Mushroom Risotto

41 Comments

I think my husband could live on risotto alone. Well, steak and risotto. So I make risotto often, creating different varieties to keep life interesting. It’s the kind of cooking I like to do, in any case, like when I made a Thai-inspired risotto a while back. My Italian ancestors are probably rolling in their graves, but one doesn’t always have to make only “authentic” dishes authentically!

Most people have sautéed mushrooms for pasta, or to top steaks. But have you ever used dried mushrooms? They used to be harder to find, but nowadays you can get just about any variety of mushroom in a dried form at most grocery stores. Italian, French, and so forth.

If you haven’t used them, I urge you strongly to try them once. It’s simply a matter of soaking them in hot water to hydrate them, then toss them into soups, pastas, gratins, you name it. They have a unique flavor, one that’s much different from the fresh counterpart.

Quite often I mix Italian and Chinese mushrooms together; the provenance of the mushroom doesn’t matter. Chinese mushrooms aren’t just for Chinese food, unless you get into the fungus, like cloud ears. Those would be more specific to Chinese dishes. My opinion.

Sometimes I mix different mushrooms together in a dish and have no idea what kind they are, because I was too dumb to save the packaging, like these. Chanterelles, maybe?
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Other times, with Chinese packaging, there’s no English translation. But in this case, I know these are Shitakes.
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So today I’m making a risotto with a mixture of the two above dried mushrooms. It’s still cold outside where I live, so I was inspired to make this risotto. It’s not something I would make during the spring and summer months. I’m seasonally responsible when I cook!

To prepare the dried mushrooms, place them in a larger bowl and add hot water to cover. To keep the mushrooms submerged, I place a smaller bowl on top and weigh it down with a can or an apple. Let them soak for at least 15 minutes; they can’t overhydrate.

Here’s the risotto I made today with the dried mushrooms. It’s just a general recipe. If you want more of a tutorial, check out some of my other risottos, like zucchini risotto.
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Dried Mushroom Risotto

1 ounce of your choice of dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil if you prefer)
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio or other risotto rice
1/4 cup white wine
Juice from mushrooms (see below)
Broth
3 ounces Parmesan, optional
Salt
Black or white pepper, to taste

To begin, heat the butter in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté them for a few minutes. Then stir in the rice. Stir it for about a minute, so that all of the rice grains are coated with the butter.

Begin adding liquid to the rice, about 1/4 – 1/3 cup at a time, and stir until it disappears. I like to start with the wine for some reason.

Meanwhile, remove the mushrooms from the liquid and place them on a cutting board. Chop the mushrooms, feeling for any hard pieces and discarding them.

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Using a fine sieve, strain the mushroom “liquor” to remove any grit. You will be using this liquid in the risotto.

Continue adding liquid to the risotto, using the mushroom liquor, followed by broth.
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Keep stirring, and you will see the rice continue to absorb liquid. When you can tell that you’re close to the end of cooking time, add the chopped mushrooms and grated Parmesan, if you’re using it. Stir gently to combine. Taste and season, if necessary, with salt and pepper.

Some people like to add more butter and sometimes heavy cream to risotto, but the rice itself gets so creamy that to me it’s not necessary.
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As far as toppings, you can use fresh parsley or chives. I chose a bit of fresh thyme.

This risotto is fabulous as is, but would also be lovely with poultry or beef.
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41 thoughts on “Dried Mushroom Risotto

  1. I use dried mushrooms often when I make simple sauteed mushrooms just to perk up the flavor. One thing I’ve been doing lately is to reconstitute them in hot water with a touch of vermouth. I think it gives them just an extra “je ne sais quoi” ;-)

    Your risotto would make me and hubby very very happy, we love this type of dish

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    • Brilliant dish Mimi! I love the idea of using the mushroom broth as part of the risotto liquid. I also love Sally’s idea to rehydrate the mushrooms in a little bit of vermouth. Great idea! I would love a bowl tonight!

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  2. Your husband sounds like mine – steak and risotto. I love the flavor of dried mushrooms, more earthy than the fresh and I think a deeper flavor. When I was little my father used to forage for mushrooms after a rain and he’d fry them up for lunch. Sooo good! Of course I don’t know my mushrooms well enough to pick my own so I’ll rely on the store to not kill me.

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    • When we lived on the east coast my mother picked puffballs – they were sometimes the size of a house! Once in college, tho, she almost killed herself and her ex-husband because of mis-identification. OOOPPPSSS!!!

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      • oh geez, that’s what I’m afraid I would do! I remember my father picking this pink mushroom that when fried tasted just like beef. But…he also picked another one & said “don’t ever confuse the two”.

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  3. Hi Mimi, the dried mushrooms in the photo look like porcini to me. This is very similar to how I make mushroom risotto, although I tend to include fresh mushrooms as well. I wonder if adding the mushroom soaking liquid at the end or to start with (after the wine) is better to get most flavor.

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    • I don’t know how the timing would make a difference, but perhaps an experiment is in order?!! They might very well be Porcini. I assumed they were French or Italian! I like to mix both as well, but I wanted this post to be about dried mushrooms, and I only made a small amount, since I typically cook for two. So that was my reasoning. I don’t like heated up risotto – it’s just never the same!

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      • I mentioned the timing because I’ve noted that adding dried porcini when making stock (from the start) does not lead to the same strength of porcini flavor/aroma as when adding porcini soaking water. I think this can be caused by the difference in cooking time (as the stock is simmered for hours and the porcini soaked for only 15 minutes).
        I fully agree on heated up risotto, unless it is breaded and deep fried :-)

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  4. Lovely Madame M! You are good to your hubby. I love using dried porcini in my mushroom risotto as well as fresh. As we enter into our ‘crybaby’ version of winter, we will be eating more of them. Great for the celiac hubby.

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  5. Hi Mimi! Recipe looks delicious! I used to frequent an Italian restaurant that made the best black truffle risotto. I could live on that stuff! I have to try mix dried mushrooms next time. Never have. Curious if the Shitakes are less strong in flavor dried? I find them a bit pungent fresh. Thanks!

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    • That’s a really good question because I can’t get fresh shitakes where i live. If I’m guessing, I would just think that it would be a different kind of flavor from the dried version. I wouldn’t call it pungent.

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  6. I like using dried mushrooms as well. I put them in a spice grinder and reduce them to a powder. The powder can then be used in soups and stews, or to coat a piece of white fish or chicken. That risotto looks good!

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