Risotto can be scary. When training apprentices I would always like to see how they handled a risotto because it tests a lot of skills. It tests their attention to detail, their ability to season and balance correctly and it shows whether or not a chef cares about their food.
This chicken and mixed mushroom risotto recipe is fairly simple. The main thing is that it is all done in one pan, which is always nice, and the prep work is limited to just a few items. Another thing about this risotto is that it is delicious.
Using a wide variety of mushrooms gives you such a diverse range of flavours from a small handful of ingredients and the mirepoix sets the whole dish up to succeed, adding a warm subtlety throughout.
I used four different mushrooms for this recipe: A handful of button mushrooms, two sprouts of enoki, a small bunch of hon shimeji, and one large king oyster mushroom. I would recommend the hon shimeji mushrooms the most for this risotto, as they add a wonderful nuttiness that is hard to replicate in other mushrooms. Swiss browns are another mushroom I love for risotto, so if you can get your hands on them then go for it!
Wild mushrooms like cep, porcini and truffles will obviously elevate this dish, but be prepared to pay the price for them!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25-30 minutes
- 40ml olive oil
- 150g mixed mushrooms (I used button, enoki, hon-shimeji, king oyster, but you can use whatever you like)
- 200g chicken thigh or breast
- 180g arborio rice
- 400ml salt-reduced vegetable stock
- 80ml white wine
- 250ml (1 cup) water (approx.)
- 1 small carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- Half an onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp oregano
- 75g butter
- 40g shaved Parmesan cheese
- Deep non-stick pan or saucepan
- Chopping Board
- Chef’s knife
- Wooden spoon or plastic spatula
Preparing the Ingredients
- Dice up the carrot, celery, onion and garlic very finely (brunoise).
- Slice up the mushrooms into roughly evenly sized pieces (mushrooms like enoki you can leave larger as they will shrink a lot as they cook).
- Cut your butter into cubes and put aside.
- Slice up your chicken into bite-sized pieces (if you are using thigh, trim some of the fat off first).
Cooking the Risotto
- Heat up a deep non-stick pan or a saucepan with the olive oil in it.
- Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute or until the ingredients start to go translucent.
- Add in the arborio rice and let it cook for a further 30 seconds.
- Put the chicken in the pan and fry until it is browned on all sides, then add the mushrooms and oregano and fry for a further minute.
- Deglaze with the white wine and give the pan a good stir, then add 100ml of the vegetable stock and stir again. Lightly season the rice (do not put too much seasoning in as you will season again later).
- When the liquid has nearly reduced completely, add another 100ml of vegetable stock. Continue to do this until you have either used all of the stock and water or until the rice is close to cooked. The key to a good risotto is attention. You should constantly be stirring the rice, keeping it off the sides of the pan and you should be tasting it as it reduces to check that the rice is cooked. You want some slight bite left in the rice so that the texture isn’t too mushy.
- When the rice is nearly cooked, add the butter and Parmesan and stir thoroughly. Once the cheese and butter have melted into the risotto and the liquid has reduced, taste the risotto and season it to your liking — we season at the end because the Parmesan and butter (unless unsalted) will add salt to the risotto.
What you should always aim for with risotto is a balance in all things. It should be rich, but not sickly, it shouldn’t be runny but it can’t be too dry and stodgy either. You need to pay close attention to your seasoning and to your ingredients.
This might all sound a bit harrowing, but as much as risotto requires your patience, it is not complicated to make. Once you understand how a good risotto should be, you can replicate this dish over and over again with different ingredients and you will always get stunning results.
You could easily make this dish vegetarian by omitting the chicken. For vegans you will need substitutes for the cheese and butter, as you need them to add texture to the risotto. If you want this dish to be even richer then you can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. I personally prefer vegetable stock as it gives the risotto a lighter base and isn’t overpowering.
If you remove the chicken and want something extra to bulk it out, I’d recommend either adding some walnuts to the dish or making a small Parmesan salad on top when you serve it.
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