Chicken of the Woods Risotto

Chicken of the Woods Risotto


1 lb. risotto rice
1 lb. Chicken of the Woods mushrooms cut into ½ inch slices (use only the outer 3-4 inches of the specimen where it is tender)
1 medium/large sweet onion, diced
½ bottle (375 mL) of dry white wine at room temp (chardonnay works well)
1 large can (49.5 oz.) natural chicken or vegetable broth (or homemade broth, if preferred) - heated
1 stick butter
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt (to taste)
Fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for serving (optional)


Clean mushrooms by brushing off any debris or rinsing them lightly if necessary. Sauté onion in butter (or a mixture of olive oil and butter if you prefer) over medium heat, until the onions turn translucent and start to break down. Mix the mushroom strips into the onions. Cover and let simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now it's time to add the rice to the onion mixture. Mix it in well so all of the rice is coated with butter/oil and stir often - do not let the rice brown! When rice turns translucent at its edges (but still opaque in centers) after a few minutes, stir in about a third of the wine to de-glaze pan. Turn heat up to medium/medium high, and simmer until wine is completely absorbed. It can't be stressed enough that you must constantly watch and stir risotto frequently, as the rice and mushrooms will absorb liquid very quickly. Repeat two more times, until all remaining wine is absorbed.

Now you will add in a ladle or two of heated broth at a time, simmering until it is absorbed. You want to add just enough liquid to keep the rice cooking. Continue to repeat this process. Around 12 minutes in, start tasting the rice to see how far along it is, and to determine how much seasoning is needed. Risotto is ready when the rice is al dente, translated "to the tooth," meaning it is tender with a small bit of firmness in the center. As far as seasoning is concerned, I used just a bit of sea salt, as the stock adds quite a bit of flavor itself. The risotto should naturally appear thickened and creamy. It typically takes the rice about 20 minutes or less to reach this stage.

Serve immediately. Some people prefer adding in a pat of butter or a dash of warmed cream to the risotto right before serving. It is often served with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese as a topping. I served it without any additions so that we could better taste the mushrooms in this dish. And if you didn't enjoy the other half of the bottle of wine while preparing this dish, by all means share it at the table!

Serving suggesting: Cold, thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with fresh basil, cracked pepper and sea salt!