Mushroom red wine risotto recipe

Mar 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

Although many mushrooms are available year-round, you may see a few more unusual varieties like morels and oyster mushrooms popping up at your local markets soon.

Variety of edible mushrooms

This member of the fungus family boasts thousands of cultivated and wild varieties. Mushrooms historically have often been feared and avoided in many cultures due to their possible toxicity. Although a few unusual varieties like morels and matsutakes are still mainly foraged from the wild, the vast majority of mushrooms found at farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants today are cultivated and totally safe for us to eat.

Mushrooms technically are not a vegetable, nor are they a plant since they have no leaves or seeds and don't need any light to grow. This edible fungus is in a culinary category unto itself. Mushrooms also contain uniquely impressive nutritional benefits as well. They are an excellent source of potassium -- one medium sized portabella mushrooms contains more potassium than a large banana -- which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. They are also a rich source of two very important B vitamins, niacin and riboflavin, which can help boost the metabolism.

How to choose and store mushrooms

Look for firm, evenly colored mushrooms. Avoid those that are bruised, sticky or seem damp. The gills, if exposed, should be undamaged.

Mushrooms will usually only stay fresh for a few days after purchase, so use them as soon as possible. If you're storing them for a few days, keep them in the original packaging they came wrapped in. If they were purchased loose, wrap them in paper towels and then enclose them loosely in a plastic or paper bag. Do not clean them until you are ready to cook with them.

Washing mushrooms

There are a lot of strong opinions out there on the best way to clean mushrooms. Some say to clean well in running water; others say a light dusting with a damp kitchen towel is completely adequate. I find that most cultivated mushrooms are hardly dirty and require nothing more than a quick wipe off with a damp towel. With some types of mushrooms, like oyster and maitake, I find it unnecessary to wash them at all. Mushrooms that have tiny little crevices, such as morels, do require a quick swish in cold water to extract any kind of debris or tiny creatures that may be hiding within.

How to cook mushrooms

The possibilities are really endless when it comes to ways to prepare mushrooms. Do keep in mind, however, that most wild mushrooms need to be cooked before eating. Mushrooms are great when grilled, sautéed, roasted or pureed in a creamy soup, but one of favorite ways to utilize these fun little fungi is in an earthy red wine risotto.

Mushroom red wine risotto recipe

Mushroom red wine risotto

4 servings


  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini or oyster, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups Arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 6-1/2 cups warm chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped


  1. Sauté the bacon in a heavy-bottomed large pot until it is crispy and most of the fat has cooked off. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  2. Add the olive oil to pot and sauté the mushrooms until softened. Season them with salt and pepper and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon. Add two tablespoons of butter to the pot and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook just until garlic becomes fragrant, about two minutes. Next, add the rice and toast until the sides of the grains become translucent around the edges, about three minutes.
  3. Add in the red wine and stir constantly until it is almost completely absorbed. Add one ladle (about 1/2 cup) of the warm stock and stir until absorbed. Continue adding the stock, one ladle at a time until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and the rice is "al dente."
  4. Melt in the last two tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese and stir in the mushrooms and bacon. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.

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