Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Baked Mushroom Risotto – Why Stir When You Can Stare at an Oven?

It’s not often that I post a video for an alternative method on a classic recipe before I’ve actually shown the real deal, but that’s what we have with this incredible baked mushroom risotto.

I was playing around with a baked paella recipe, and began wondering what would happen if I used a similar method for doing risotto. As you’ll see, the beginning and the end of the recipe are pretty standard, but we’ve taken the middle 15 minutes and moved it into the oven, in an attempt to eliminate those dreaded “variables.”

The size, shape, and thickness of your pan, how fast you add the liquid, and how high your heat is are factors that can wildly affect the outcome when done on the stovetop. By using the oven for the majority of the cooking, we don’t have as many things to worry about.

Of course, you still need to finish this thing off yourself, and taste and test for doneness and seasoning, but that goes for any recipe. The goal is to have the rice come out of the oven between 80-90% cooked, so that all it takes is a final addition of liquid, and a few minutes of stirring to recreate that signature “sauce” that makes this dish so famous.

I used a variety of risotto rice called “Carnaroli,” which is known as "the king of rices.” Thanks to a higher starch content and slightly longer grain, Carnaroli produces a beautifully creamy sauce, while still maintaining a firm, toothsome texture. You should be able to find it fairly easily at those fancy grocery stores, but if not, it’s readily available online.

If you end up using Arborio rice, the most popular variety sold for risotto, I’d suggest checking this after 10 minutes in the oven, as I suspect it will cook slightly quicker than the Carnaroli. Besides, you can always cook it an extra few minutes at the end. As many of us have learned the hard way, you can’t un-cook something.

Besides being easier and more repeatable, this method produced a risotto that was identical in looks, taste, and texture to anything I can do on the stove. Having said that, I enjoy standing at the stove making risotto the traditional way, as it’s one of the best meditations ever, so it will be interesting to see which method I use the next time I’m craving the dish.

Anyway, whether you’ve always been afraid to try risotto, or you’ve mastered it and are just curious, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
3 tbsp butter
3 cups diced mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus more if desired
1/2 cup cream, plus a few tablespoons to finish
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (don’t use that fake crap)
2 tbsp sliced chives

View the complete recipe

22 comments:

Alex Vee said...

Thanks chef John, I just made this dish for my Italian father in law, it was a hit. He called Gustoso.

Alex Vee said...

Thanks chef John, I just made this as a side dish for my slick back greasy hair father in law, he called it Gustoso.

Chuck said...

I'm guessing Uncle Ben's is out of the question...

danijel said...

Chef John, what do you think about cooking the rice before mixing it with mushrooms (or whatever) instead of frying it in the pan?

goofydaniel4u said...

If we wanna use the damn fake crap we will if we can't find anything else.

paul said...

why don't you wash the rice before cooking it?

Sean Petrozzino said...

Is jasmine rice an acceptable alternative? I mean, I already bought a giant hunk of parmigian because you're constantly yelling at me about it. Do I really have to make another trip to Whole Foods? Those people make me uncomfortable...

Sean Petrozzino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef John said...

You can, but longer grain rice just doesn't give you the same creamy results.

Lhinelle said...

How about brown rice? Will that work, or will I end up with a gloppy mess rather than gloriously silky sauce on tender rice grains?

Chef John said...

Other rices will not work the same.

Chris K. said...

FREAKISHLY SMALL WOODEN SPOON!

Other types of rice will not work, because as was ruled in Brown Rice vs. Board of Education, separate grains are inherently unequal.

Razors Edge said...

where is the cheese???

Matty G said...

Hi Chef, can this recipe be scaled up? Or does the pan size and cooking times need to change?

Chef John said...

Yes, could be scaled for sure! Can't give you any times though unless I experimented first, and would depend on specific size shape of pan, etc.

Jasen said...

Made this tonight and it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing Chef John

MA LA said...

I actually do not see the point at all of putting it in the oven....and using cream...

Randy Sieb said...

Just finished making/eating this risotto and it was amazing. I made it with arborio rice. I pull it after 10 min as suggested, put it in 2 more min, and then finished on the stove. I think it could have gone close to 15. Made the "Plant Muncher" style for my plant muncher step-son. Seemed to need more salt. I can only imagine how more amazing with chicken. Shaved parm on the top, YUM!

Patrick said...

Chef John, how do you get your stainless steel pans to not stick like that? If I throw mushrooms in mine like that with the same amount of butter... it sticks like crazy.

Anna Berman said...

Hi Patrick! Great question. Chef John is away on a well deserved vacation and I will be answering questions meanwhile. There are two important keys to make sure the mushrooms don't stick to the pan. The first one is to preheat the pan and the butter before adding mushrooms. The second key is not to stir the mushrooms right away. They need to get a chance to start cooking - this will create a crust of sort and will prevent the mushrooms from sticking to the pan. Give this a try - good luck!

Also, make sure you are using a nice heavy bottom pan so the heat is circulated evenly.

Benjamin Sambor said...

Wonderful as always Chef! Between this and your garlic steaks, I will never have to visit the high end steakhouse again! I used Arborio and took it out after 12 minutes. I used porcini, baby bellas, and a drizzle of truffle oil as soon as the cheese was incorporated.... Mind = Blown

J6U said...

Most importantly:
"1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (don’t use that fake crap)"

Which I did!