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Creamy Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Risotto is a restaurant quality dish that is perfect for a special occasion dinner and can be served as either a meatless main dish, side dish, or appetizer depending on how you portion each serving.
This is a classic and iconic Italian rice dish known as risotto. Risotto is one of those foods that I think many people only eat at upscale restaurants because they are intimidated to make it at home.
But it's delicious, indulgent texture and flavor is easier to recreate in your own kitchen than you might think, especially using a technique that I'm about to share with you that departs from tradition and makes cooking a perfect risotto much, much easier.
You can create risotto with so many flavors, but this creamy roasted garlic & mushroom risotto is one of my favorites! Another close favorite is my butternut squash risotto.
But first, what is Risotto?
Years ago, before I had ever attempted making risotto at home, my friend Christine casually mentioned that she regularly cooked risotto for her kids.
Which surprised me, so I asked her to teach me and explain her method, having only a general idea of how to make risotto based on watching Gordon Ramsay eviscerate contestants on the show Hell's Kitchen for their failed attempts at risotto.
"Um, you just dump the box of risotto into the water and cook it," she replied.
Which definitely sounded wrong to me and I teased her that she was holding back and not sharing her secrets for cooking risotto with me when she had so confidently stated that she "made risotto all the time."
It took a while for us to clear up the confusion and realize that she was using orzo pasta to make what she thought was risotto.
So just to be clear, risotto is made with rice, not pasta. And not just any rice. Risotto requires a specific type of rice called arborio rice.
It's easy to find in the rice section at your local grocery store. Arborio rice has more starch than other types of rice, which results in the unique, texture of a creamy risotto.
I have heard of other varieties or risotto rice called Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Roma, Ribe and Baldo, but have never personally used those to make risotto.
But please do not attempt risotto with regular white rice or a Jasmine or Basmati rice because you won't get the desired result with those varieties, which don't have the same qualities and starch content of real risotto rice.
How to cook risotto rice
The traditional method for making risotto involves stirring heated chicken stock or broth into toasted rice in a saucepan, one ladleful of liquid at a time and stirring almost constantly for 20 minutes until the rice is tender but not mushy.
The risotto cooks slowly as the hot stock is absorbed (if you added cold liquid each time it would increase the cooking time even more, hence the heated stock), releasing the starch in the rice as it is stirred to achieve it's characteristic texture and creating a creamy, velvety dish.
I've made risotto the traditional way many times and it definitely requires a bit of commitment because of the constant babysitting. But worth it for special occasions, of course!
But then I stumbled onto Nagi's technique from Recipe Tin Eats where she explains that if you use a deep skillet or large pot instead of a saucepan, the rice and liquid can spread out and you don't have to stir it constantly or add the liquid in installments.
And since the broth is added all at once instead of by ladlefuls, you don't have to heat it up, saving even more time and another dirty dish.
So I tried this new approach, and you guys, it absolutely works. As in I couldn't detect any difference in texture between the risottos I have made the traditional way and the one I made using this much easier technique.
It's kind of ingenious, and since you only have to stir the rice once or twice while it simmers, it frees you up to work on other things!
While classic risotto typically includes butter, cheese, and wine, you can absolutely make risotto without wine by just replacing the same amount of liquid with additional chicken stock or water. We don't drink wine at our house although I have no qualms about cooking with it since the alcohol cooks off.
In the past I haven't wanted to buy a bottle of wine only to use ½ a cup for a recipe and would just substitute with extra stock or water, but I recently discovered little 4 packs of individually sized pinot grigio at Safeway when I saw someone checking out in line in front of me with them. Each little bottle has about ⅔ cup of wine in it, which is perfect for my cooking needs!
The creamy roasted garlic & mushroom risotto variation that I'm sharing with you today calls for crimini mushrooms and chanterelles or hedgehog mushrooms (I just discovered them at the Farmer's Market last weekend!), but you can honestly use 12 ounces total of whatever mushroom varieties you like.
Other good options would be oyster or porcini mushrooms. If you cook the mushrooms first, then transfer them to a plate and add them back in towards the end of cooking the rice, then you can do everything in the same pan.
But other risotto ideas include adding in vegetables (asparagus, peas, and butternut squash are some of my favorites with risotto), meat (cooked chicken, sausages, or lobster are popular) or fish later in the cooking process. Or you could even make a sweet risotto rice pudding!
Leftover risotto can be shaped into balls and then fried, making another classic (and insanely yummy) dish known as 'arancini'.
More Delicious Risotto Recipes To Inspire You
- Creamy Lemon Risotto from Julia at Plated Cravings
- Mushroom Caprese Risotto with Balsamic Shrimp from Erica at The Crumby Kitchen
- Spring Green Risotto from Tara at Tara Teaspoon
More Rice Dishes You'll Love
- Easy Rice Pilaf with Orzo Pasta
- Garlic Rice with Fried Egg
- Creamy Leftover Turkey Wild Rice Soup
- Skillet Lemon Chicken & Rice
- Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
- Homemade Mexican Rice (aka Spanish Rice)
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Thai Coconut Mango Sticky Rice
Creamy Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Risotto
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 shallots or ½ a medium onion chopped
- 1 whole head garlic roasted
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms quartered
- 4 ounces hedgehog or chanterelle mushrooms
- ½ cup dry white wine like pinot grigio optional - swap for water or additional chicken broth if desired
- 1 ¼ cups arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Freshly chopped parsley or micro-greens for garnish
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat a large cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the oil for 5 minutes until they turn brown, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Wipe out the pan and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped shallots or onion and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the roasted garlic, mashing it in a bit, and season with salt and pepper.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the rice, stirring just until the grains become somewhat translucent - about 1 minute.
- Add the wine and cook, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the alcohol is burned off - about 2 minutes. If not using the wine, just skip this step and add the additional water or chicken stock in the next step.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and add 3 cups of chicken stock to the rice. Leaving the skillet uncovered, continue to cook over medium-low until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring just once or twice while the rice cooks.
- Test the rice by tasting a small spoonful. It should be firm, but not soft. Adjust salt & pepper, as needed, then add additional stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring in between each addition, until the rice is cooked to your taste and the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add the sauteed mushrooms back into the risotto to heat through just as the rice is almost done. When the rice is done, add another splash of chicken broth to make the risotto slightly soupy and remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the butter, Parmesan and lemon zest to the rice and stir thoroughly until the butter is completely melted and the risotto becomes nice and creamy and finishes absorbing any extra stock.
- Serve immediately, garnishing with shaved Parmesan, additional lemon zest, and micro-greens or freshly chopped parsley.