Easy No-Stir Mushroom Risotto
Classic mushroom and herb risotto that can be prepared with minimal to zero stirring and hassle! A hearty vegetarian main course for weeknights or special occasions.
This week has completely, and undeniably, run away from me. Can we pretend it’s Monday? Ok, yes, let’s do that.
Connor and I traveled to Washington, DC last weekend for my sister-in-law’s wedding (speaking of time, family weddings go by just as quickly as your own!) and my closest friend, Caroline, is flying to Chicago tomorrow for a quick visit! Lots of excitement, not quite enough work. Life tends to work that way.
In the meantime, let’s talk risotto! Are you a fan? Have you ever made homemade risotto in your kitchen? If so, you know that risotto isn’t all that complicated to prepare, but it does require time, attention, and stirring. Lots and lots of stirring.
When I have some free time or am cooking more leisurely on the weekends, I have no qualms about this, but…risotto is far from weeknight friendly for the most part.
Thankfully, today’s recipe and method eliminates most of the stirring! You don’t have to be glued to the stovetop and can now prepare a classic risotto with significantly less hassle and work.
Classic risotto is prepared by toasting specific varieties of short-grain rice and gradually adding hot broth, allowing the liquid to completely absorb in stages. As the risotto cooks, the starch from the rice is released and helps produce the creamy texture that everyone has come to know and love.
A month or so ago, I came across Cook’s Illustrated method for almost hands-free risotto and became intrigued. I had heard of similar methods in the past, but had never actually prepared them myself. I was always curious as to whether or not they would produce the same texture or creaminess of a classic risotto.
So…I thought it was about time that I tried this method myself and report back.
Since I’m not able to leave well enough alone, I decided to make a few changes to the recipe. Instead of using arborio rice (which is the most well known and most widely available variety for risotto) as the recipe called for, I used the lesser known carnaroli rice, which is my personal go-to choice for homemade risotto. It is actually known as the “caviar” of all rices.
If you can find carnaroli rice at your grocery store (I actually found mine in the bulk bins of my Whole Foods, but specialty Italian stores should carry it), I highly recommend it over classic arborio rice.
As strange as it may sound, I actually became privy to this information while I was visiting and touring culinary schools years ago and I haven’t looked back since.
Carnaroli rice is actually more starchy than arborio rice, which yields an even creamier risotto.
It also holds its shape much better than arborio rice. Ideally, with a great risotto, you want each grain of rice to still hold its shape and be slightly ‘al dente’ once cooked.
I like to think of it as the same investment or reasoning behind purchasing a higher quality dried pasta over a lower quality dried pasta. It will most certainly yield a better final outcome and it is far more forgiving during the cooking process.
If you can’t find it, don’t worry, you can absolutely use arborio rice for this dish. To give it even more flavor and oomph, I added sautéed mushrooms and herbs to this risotto during the final stages of cooking. The mushrooms can be prepared as the risotto is cooking (or ahead of time!). I used a combination of shiitake and oyster mushrooms, but feel free to substitute them with other varieties!
The key to a no-stir risotto is sautéing the finely diced onion, toasting the rice, and allowing the rice to cook and absorb dry white wine – as you do with the first few steps of any classic risotto.
At this point, you deviate from the traditional method and add a large quantity (5 cups) of hot stock at once, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow the risotto to cook for 15 to 18 minutes, stirring the risotto once or twice during the cooking process. No more, no less.
Finally, you stir the risotto during the last 3 to 5 minutes of the cooking process to help produce that creamy texture that we know and love.
While there is something to be said for the constant stirring of a classic risotto, I can honestly say that this hands-free risotto will now be my go-to choice for weeknight dinners. It is also perfect if you want to serve risotto to a larger group of people (in my case, that’s more than two people) as it allows you to walk away from the stove and enjoy your time with your guests!
- 5.5 cups chicken broth or stock
- 1.5 cups water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- kosher salt
- 1 medium garlic clove, pressed or minced
- 2 cups carnaroli (or arborio) rice
- 1 cup dry white wine (I used an Italian Pinot Grigio)
- 3 ounces grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for garnishing
- sautéed mushrooms and herbs (see below)
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- freshly ground black pepper
Sautéed Mushrooms and Herbs:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 8 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 ounces dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme leaves, plus more for garnishing
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the chicken stock and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a very low simmer.
- In a large Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pot), heat the butter over medium heat until it is lightly bubbling. Add the onion and salt, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. for Add the carnaroli rice and toast, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes (the individual rice grains should be slightly translucent along the edges).
- Add the white wine and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the wine has completely absorbed into the rice. Add 5 cups of the hot broth mixture to the pot, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the lid and stir twice during the cooking process, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a low simmer.
- As the risotto is cooking, sauté the mushrooms. Heat very large (more surface area the better) sauté pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and butter, followed by the mushrooms, spreading them into a single layer with a wooden spoon. Sauté the mushrooms for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they have caramelized and the bottom of the pan has formed a nice light brown fond. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from heat and deglaze with the dry white wine. Place back on the heat, add the chopped thyme and rosemary, and continue to cook until all of the white wine has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Once the risotto has finished simmering, add 1 cup of hot broth and stir gently and continuously with a wooden spoon, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the risotto is creamy and has thickened considerably. Add the parmesan and stir until evenly incorporated. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoon of butter, lemon juice, and most of the sautéed mushrooms (I like to leave some in the pan for topping each individual serving, but this is up to you!). Add the remaining broth (or as much as you desire) to help loosen the risotto, if it has gotten a bit too thick. Ideally, risotto should be loose enough that it flows when tilted in a bowl or plate.
- Season the risotto to taste with salt and pepper and serve in pre-warmed bowls or plates. Garnish with additional sautéed mushrooms and sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and a few thyme leaves.
Tips for Success:
- If you can find it, I prefer to use the lesser known carnaroli rice (as opposed to the more known arborio rice) for risotto, as it tends to hold its shape better during the cooking process. You can find it at most Italian specialty stores and in the bulk bin section of some Whole Foods locations.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367 Total Fat: 25g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 53mg Sodium: 1670mg Carbohydrates: 18g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 6g Protein: 11g