Fall Swoon: Wild Mushroom Risotto

Hearty, comforting, and delicious.

By: Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful
Fall Swoon: Wild Mushroom Risotto

When I took my first cooking lesson while pregnant with Jivan, the risotto was the first dish I learned to make. So when I hosted my first-holiday dinner, you can guess what I served! My affection for the creamy Italian rice was reaffirmed two years ago when I had the opportunity to collaborate with Jody Williams, the chef-owner of New York’s Buvette and Via Carota, on a harvest dinner at Westwind Orchard. We made the two-hour trip upstate for a site visit and left the farm so invigorated by the autumn bounty that we had the entire menu finalized when we returned to the city.

One of the dishes Jody created was risotto with wild mushrooms and wild berries—the inspiration being the edible treasures you’d find on the forest floor. The idea was so poetic that I couldn’t help trying to create my interpretation. As written, it’s an early fall recipe since it relies on wild berries, but it can also be made later in the season; omit the fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 4½ cups (1 L) low-sodium chicken stock
  • Five tablespoons (2½ ounces/70 g) unsalted butter, divided
  • Two cloves of garlic, minced
  • Two large shallots, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces (340 g) of fresh wild mushrooms such as chanterelles and hedgehogs, trimmed and halved, the larger pieces roughly chopped
  • Five fresh sage leaves, finely chopped.
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves minced
  • Four sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1½ cups (285 g) Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) dry white wine
  • Three tablespoons mascarpone
  • ¾ cup (70 g) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • One handful (about ¾ cup) of wild black currants or blackberries for serving
  • One teaspoon of chopped fresh chives and parsley
  • One lemon, zested

Method of Preparation:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat and keep it at a bare simmer, covered.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, melt four tablespoons (2 ounces/55 g) of the butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Add garlic and shallots, and sauté until softened for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and herbs, occasionally stirring, until the mushrooms are softened and just turning golden brown, and their liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes—season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it turns opaque, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated. Add 1 cup (240 ml) of the hot stock and simmer until it fully evaporates.
  5. Continue to add the stock, about ½ cup (120 ml) at a time, stirring frequently and allowing each addition to be fully absorbed by the rice before adding in the next.
  6. When the rice is just tender and creamy looking, it is done in 20 to 25 minutes; it should be cooked through but still have a slight bite to it. Remove the risotto from the heat and discard the thyme stems.
  7. Stir in the remaining one tablespoon of butter, the mascarpone, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. If the risotto is thicker than you’d like, you can thin it with some of the leftover stock.
  9. Before serving the risotto, garnish it with wild berries, chives, a few shaves of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and lemon zest. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve immediately.

Photographer Credit: Johnny Miller

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