Dried Mushroom Risotto

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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By Published On: March 19th, 201541 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

41 Comments

  1. sallybr March 19, 2015 at 8:37 AM - Reply

    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

  2. chef mimi March 19, 2015 at 8:58 AM - Reply

    oh, that sounds wonderful. I’ll have to try that! And yes, I love the combination of fresh and dried – there’s nothing quite like it, especially in something like a risotto.

    • Bam's Kitchen March 21, 2015 at 8:45 AM - Reply

      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!

  3. charmbutterfly19 March 19, 2015 at 11:14 AM - Reply

    I’ve never made risotto before! I will definitely try this! Looks yummy!

    • chef mimi March 19, 2015 at 2:18 PM - Reply

      If you’ve had it at a good restaurant, then you’ll definitely be motivated to make it at home! It’s fun to make!

      • charmbutterfly19 March 19, 2015 at 2:21 PM

        OK I will jump in and try! *fingers crossed*

  4. dianeskitchentable March 19, 2015 at 1:22 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi March 19, 2015 at 2:20 PM - Reply

      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!!!

      • dianeskitchentable March 19, 2015 at 4:05 PM

        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”.

  5. StefanGourmet March 19, 2015 at 1:38 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi March 19, 2015 at 2:17 PM - Reply

      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!

      • StefanGourmet March 22, 2015 at 10:38 AM

        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 :-)

      • chef mimi March 22, 2015 at 5:26 PM

        It would be interesting to taste the two as well, because you’re right, the mushrooms are only soaked for 15 – 30 minutes!!!

  6. Marisa @missmarzipan.com March 19, 2015 at 3:05 PM - Reply

    Fabulous! What a beautiful looking risotto!

  7. Conor Bofin March 19, 2015 at 3:44 PM - Reply

    Lovely. I use porcini for this type of risotto. They give (the soaking water gives) a really strong meaty flavour. Wonderful with nice steak.

    • chef mimi March 19, 2015 at 4:30 PM - Reply

      Stefan thinks my dried mushrooms are porcini. i’m not familiar enough with different shapes to know the difference!

      • Conor Bofin March 19, 2015 at 4:38 PM

        On second glance, he is probably right. He is usually right on these things.

  8. cheergerm March 20, 2015 at 7:36 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi March 20, 2015 at 8:31 AM - Reply

      Oh, of course! Thank goodness for rice!

  9. Our Growing Paynes March 20, 2015 at 8:56 AM - Reply

    I love mushroom risotto. The flavours just work perfectly. I should use dried mushrooms more often for this type of thing.

    • chef mimi March 21, 2015 at 11:04 AM - Reply

      I tend to forget about them too, until i’m rumaging around in my pantry!

  10. 13 Spices March 20, 2015 at 8:57 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi March 21, 2015 at 11:06 AM - Reply

      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.

  11. eliotthecat March 20, 2015 at 11:39 AM - Reply

    Great! Stupendous! Lovely, lovely idea and I love the photo with the thyme.

  12. wendy@chezchloe March 20, 2015 at 3:20 PM - Reply

    This looks so tasty and a good use for the mushrooms in the cabinet. And the photos of the thyme are just beautiful.

  13. A Famished Foodie March 20, 2015 at 6:14 PM - Reply

    You had me at mushroom…and then again at risotto.

  14. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward March 20, 2015 at 6:49 PM - Reply

    Definitely need a steak and this! 😉

  15. anotherfoodieblogger March 20, 2015 at 7:30 PM - Reply

    I have some dried mushrooms left I used for another recipe, and totally forgot about them. I need to drag those out of the pantry and make this. Thank you for the reminder!

    • chef mimi March 21, 2015 at 11:07 AM - Reply

      I know – I forget about them often until i’m looking for something in my pantry!!!

  16. Francesca Maria March 21, 2015 at 3:40 PM - Reply

    Wonderful! That is my favorite risotto!

  17. Dr Dan March 24, 2015 at 8:42 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi March 24, 2015 at 11:54 AM - Reply

      That is so smart! I bet the mushroom powder is packaged and sold, and is probably super expensive! If it was in a rub, would it burn? Like on a steak?

      • Dr Dan March 24, 2015 at 2:09 PM

        I mostly use it on white fish, and it doesn’t burn.

      • chef mimi March 25, 2015 at 9:44 AM

        Good to know. You should write a post on it! I think it would be fabulous on a steak!

      • Dr Dan March 24, 2015 at 2:11 PM

        Maybe I should write a post about it!

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