Chef Notes: Baked Risotto

Chef Notes: Baked Risotto

Well I scorched it again. Not the oven baked risotto. That worked perfectly. But I burned my balsamic reduction that was supposed to be drizzled over the macerated strawberries being served over a lemony, sweetened blend of mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese, and sour cream. In all my life, and believe me I’ve tried several times, I’ve never successfully made balsamic reduction. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. Number one, it’s not that complicated; you just simmer a butt load of balsamic until it thickens, and number two you can buy it you idiot so stop trying to make it yourself. Well, it’s not complicated damn it but you do have to keep a pretty close eye on it and I don’t do so well with babysitting food. And the premade stuff is loaded with unnecessary sweeteners and thickeners. I wanted the real thing. All I got was a scorched pan that is still soaking. The strawberries were still delicious but the dessert was missing that little bit of sweet/sour/tanginess that I was looking for.

Back to that oven baked risotto, Logan (my 13 year old son) loves mushrooms but even more than mushrooms he loves truffles. He helped me plan our father’s day menu and requested mushroom risotto and asked that I use the dried black truffles that he got me for mother’s day. Now we all love risotto, but talk about a dish that has to be babysat, you are literally stirring for approximately 25 minutes straight. That’s enough to put me into an anxiety attack when I’ve got guests over and several other dishes going. So I figured that if the pilaf method uses the oven why wouldn’t it work on the risotto method. I gave it a shot and it was delicious. It’s not quite as creamy as the stove top method but if you just don’t have the time or inclination to stir for twenty-five minutes it’s a damn good substitute. Here’s my recipe, but remember the method will remain the same regardless of what ingredients you decide use. I haven’t tried this with any other rice or grain so keep that in mind of you decide to try Faro Risotto or some other grain.

Mushroom Risotto

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz box of morel mushrooms, reconstituted & julienned, liquid strained through cheesecloth & reserved
2 oz box of porcini mushrooms, reconstituted & julienned, liquid strained through cheesecloth & reserved
2 tablespoons dried black truffles, reconstituted & finely minced, liquid strained through cheesecloth & reserved
2 loosely packed cups shitake mushrooms, stems removed & caps julienned
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium shallots, finely minced
3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups stock
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Salt & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350. In a large Dutch oven, sauté mushrooms in butter & olive oil. Once browned, season lightly with salt & pepper, remove from pan, and reserve for later. In the same dutchoven, sauté the shallot & garlic & season with salt & pepper. Add rice and sauté until lightly toasted. Deglaze with wine and reserved mushroom liquid. Reduce to au sec (almost dry). (If desired, you could stop right here, remove from heat, and resume cooking about 45-50 minutes before service.) Add stock, reserved mushrooms, a bit more salt & pepper, bring to a boil, cover and put in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and check it out.  If too much liquid remains, place on the stove top on high and quickly finish reducing. If the rice remains more al dente then desired but not enough liquid remains just throw in another ½ cup of water or stock and finish on the stove top, uncovered. Mine came out with just a tad more liquid than I wanted but only took about 5 minutes to finish on the stove. Once it’s done, stir in the parmesan cheese, truffle oil and adjust the seasoning. Remember that risotto should be slightly al dente. Not crunchy exactly but certainly not mushy in the middle.

I thought this was so much easier than the traditional method.  As I said earlier, it might be just slightly less creamy but you can always stir in a little extra butter, heavy cream, or mascarpone cheese if that bothers you. It was pretty damn near perfect and Chris and Carrie couldn’t get enough. Logan probably ate three cups of it and enjoyed it more than the steak served with it, which is saying something.

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