Mushroom and Red Wine Risotto

Mushrooms and red wine create layers of savory flavor in this creamy, irresistible risotto. Mushrooms appear in various Italian and Jewish-Italian risottos, and it’s no wonder. They produce an almost meaty taste, especially with the wine and onions, and wonderful texture. It’s all deeply and warmly comforting, and satisfying enough to be a main dish.

If risottos intimidate you, let me assure you they are actually quite enjoyable to make—and you don’t have to stir the whole time! I’m grateful for learning early on from cookbook author Mark Bittman that you only need to stir thoroughly every few minutes, assuming you keep the risotto at a low simmer. That was liberating, and risottos have been go-to dishes ever since. Risotto also wins in that it’s almost a one-pot meal—you just need a second pan to warm the broth, but that’s super easy to clean.

Another reason to love risottos is their versatility. The starchy rice, which gives the dish its creaminess, gives you a blank canvas to add whatever is seasonal or calls to you. This characteristic likely appealed to Italy’s Jews, who long prepared various risottos, from the classic saffron-scented dishes to risottos with fresh ingredients like artichokes, pumpkin, and mushrooms, and even nondairy versions with little bits of meat or seafood. However, for the most part, it was an inexpensive dish that could be made outstanding with whatever food was abundant and local, usually vegetables.

For my mushroom version, dried porcini mushrooms give a big punch of mushroom flavor from both the rehydrated mushrooms and their fragrant soaking liquid, which gets added to the cooking broth for the risotto. Baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped, deepen the flavor and add nice heft to the dish. Another savory layer of flavor comes from a combination of chopped sweet onion and shallot. The red wine adds color but most of all exquisite fruitiness, which becomes even more wonderful when you add a splash toward the end of cooking. And cheese—use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if you can—brings all the savoriness together and adds a little more creaminess. The aromas are heavenly.

You don’t have to eat the risotto piping hot, but be ready to enjoy it while still very warm. It stiffens once it cools, and though still delicious, you won’t quite get the lovely creamy effect that you did all that stirring for. Leftovers do become a nice texture for frying up some small risotto cakes the next day—but this risotto is so good, leftovers are pretty rare.

Mushroom and Red Wine Risotto

Red wine and two kinds of mushrooms bring robust flavor to this creamy, comforting risotto. Reserving some of the wine to add at the end helps bring the dish’s fruitiness forward in the most delicious way. It helps to have all your ingredients ready, and you can prep them while the porcini mushrooms hydrate. Risottos stiffen as they cool so be sure to serve very warm.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian, Jewish-Italian
Servings 5


  • 1 .5 ounce-package dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 cups 32 ounces vegetable broth *
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounces baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry red wine, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese, plus additional for passing at the table
  • Rosemary or parsley sprigs for garnish, optional


  • Combine porcini mushrooms and water in a small bowl and loosely cover. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Line a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth and strain the mushroom liquid into a bowl and set aside. Rinse the mushrooms, tamp them dry, and finely chop.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the broth to a very low simmer and adjust the heat to keep it there. Add the mushroom broth when it’s ready.
  • In a large wide-bottomed pan such as a Dutch oven, heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook stirring frequently until just softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid and it mostly evaporates, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly for 1 more minute. Add the rice (and additional oil if needed) and stir to coat. Continue stirring for 2 minutes (you should see the rice just starting to turn translucent on the edges), then add ½ cup of the red wine, stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed.
  • Adjust the heat to keep the rice mixture at a simmer and add 2 ladlefuls of warm broth, stirring well. Stir the rice every few minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed, then add another 2 ladlefuls. Repeat until the rice is plump and creamy but still al dente, 20 to 25 minutes. When the rice seems close to being done, add the last ½ cup of wine. You might not need all the broth.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon risotto into individual bowls and sprinkle with more cheese. Garnish with herbs as desired. Serve immediately.


For the rice, I slightly prefer Carnaroli, which stays more al dente after cooking whereas Arborio gets a little softer—but both make beautifully delicious risottos.
* Kosher Note: You can use chicken broth if not needing a kosher dish. 
Keyword Mushrooms, rice, risotto


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