Mushroom Risotto

If there were one food I hated with a passion as a child, it would be “mushrooms”. In defense of the “fungus among us”, most of the shrooms I remember seeing were those oil-soaked pieces of rubber that come from a can. And as a foodie, I know I need to get over it: mushrooms are pretty basic. But even now I shrivel and sometimes even gag at the thought of eating them.

So, in what seems like an unrelated note, I recently decided to have a group of friends over for braised oxtail. I didn’t want to do a “typical-for-braising” starch like mashed potatoes or rice, or even polenta. For some reason, I thought at the time that the best starch would be mushroom risotto. And I think retrospectively it was perfect. While the oxtail itself was a pain (so much work for so little meat!), the risotto was INHALED. Zero left overs.

This dish obviously is vegetarian friendly. It does take quite a bit of care and time; you have to stir almost constantly for 30-45 minutes. But if you ever needed an endorsement for a dish here it is: this makes me like mushrooms.



  • One box orzo
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Two large cloves garlic, minced
  • White wine (don’t cook with anything you wouldn’t eat)
  • Water
  • Mushrooms (I used a mix of fresh portobellos, oysters, and shiitakes)

    Butter and white wine does tasty mushrooms make.
    Butter and white wine does tasty mushrooms make.


  1. After washing them, coarsely chop all the mushrooms. In a large skillet saute them in butter, salt, pepper, and garlic.
  2. When the mushrooms are soft(er), add the orzo. Coat the orzo in olive oil (but don’t drown it).
  3. Add 2 cups of liquid at a time–a constant mix of half white wine and half water. You will have to repeat this 2-3 times until the orzo is fully cooked.
    Liquid just added
    Liquid just added

    Liquid absorbed
    Liquid absorbed
  4. Once the orzo is cooked, serve IMMEDIATELY (this stuff is like grits. It has about 20 minutes until it becomes a rock).

    With braised oxtail.
    With braised oxtail.

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