Mushroom Risotto for Dad

There are four components used to make the risotto, three of which can be prepared well in advance of serving.

Mushroom Puree (duxelles)
12 oz. sliced mushrooms, crimini have better flavor, but the plain white ones are fine, too
2 oz. sliced shallots
1/2 oz. butter

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Heat a small pot over midium-high heat, and add the butter, when it sizzles, add the shallots, and cook, stirring until the mixture begins to brown.

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Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, stir a couple of times to mix them with the shallots, then cover the pot, and allow the mushrooms to cook. They will very quickly release a bunch of water, so won’t likely burn, but check after a couple of minutes to make sure, and give them a stir.  After about four or five minutes, the pot should be boiling. Remove the cover, and allow to cook dry. Stir once in a while to prevent burning, but browning will add to the flavor depth.

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Transfer the cooked mushroom mixture to a food processor, and process until smooth. This can be refrigerated for several days, maybe a week. It will lose flavor after about the second day.

Mushroom Stock
4 cups chicken broth (or water if you want it to be vegetarian)
12 oz. sliced mushrooms, as above
1/10 oz, about 3 grams dried porcini mushrooms
4 oz. yellow onions, sliced thinly, about half an onion
2 oz. celery, sliced thin
10 black peppercorns, more or lessa bay leaf if you have some
a sprig of fresh thyme, if you have it, otherwise omit. Dried thyme does not taste the same

Combine the whole mess, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for one hour. Strain and cool. This keeps well in the fridge for a week, and freezes well for a long time. Sorry, no photos…

Par-cooked rice
If this part is done correctly, it will reduce the time required to put the risotto on the plate to less than ten minutes.


2 T. butter
8 oz. onion, small dice, about half an onion
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1 c. dry white wine, cheap, but not undrinkable
1 c. mushroom stock from above

Heat a suitable pot over high heat, then add the butter. When it sizzles, add the onion, and cook until soft and beginning to brown.
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Add the rice, and cook, stirring, until it is hot, then add the wine, about 1/3 at a time, stirring until it is absorbed and the rice dries out. You will know when you can push the rice to one side, and there is no pool of liquid in the center.

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Add the mushroom stock in the same 1/3 at a time way, then transfer to a baking pan, spread out, and allow to cool completely. Transfer to a storage container, and cover if not using right away. Refrigerate for two days without much ill effect.


Making The Risotto!
Finally, you are ready. Prepare the required ingredients, then get ready to dine.

8 oz. of garnish mushrooms. This means mushrooms that will be in the risotto in big chunks for decoration. I usually buy one of the overpriced Chef’s Mix packages at Whole Foods.
12 oz. of par-cooked rice, by weight12 oz. of mushroom  stock
3 1/2 oz. mushroom puree
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese, the real stuff from Italy. Or use Grana Padano which is more or less the same but less expensive
2 oz. unsalted butter

Start with the rice and 2 oz. of stock, get the rice hot over high heat.



Add the garnish mushrooms, I usually cut the large ones up, with another 2 oz. of stock. Stir.




Add more stock, and stir, then add the puree. Stir. Get it hot, but don’t burn it.



It’s getting close. Keep adding the mushroom stock, a couple of oz at a time, until it’s all in. Then add the cheese, and stir it in.

riso7riso8Finally add the butter and basil, and mix them in. Add pepper to taste, and a little more stock if it seems thick. It should be soupy. When it sits, in the pot or on the plate, it will continue to thicken up.


Serve with a nice pinot noir, like Bonne Mares or Clos de Vougeot. Let me know what time to be there. I don’t want to miss the wine!


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David Gingrass is a food and beverage operations professional with a career spanning more than three decades. His fascination with and love for food, wine and entertaining allows him to view his work as both a vocation and an avocation. Gingrass graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York then cooked in the Bay Area for two years before landing a job at Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood. There he learned to make the signature breads and sausages that he became known for at Postrio and Hawthorne Lane. He was soon promoted to kitchen manager and managed the operational and expense control aspects of Puck’s iconic restaurant for the next four years. Gingrass returned to San Francisco in 1989 when Puck tapped him and his then-wife Anne to open Postrio, Puck’s third restaurant and his first outside of Los Angeles. Postrio opened to rave reviews and soon became the #1 popular Bay Area restaurant in the prestigious Zagat survey. Five and a half years later, the opportunity to open a restaurant of his own presented itself. Hawthorne Lane opened in 1995 and was a San Francisco dining institution for over twelve years, catering to the likes of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Mayor Willie Brown, James Carville, President Clinton and First Lady Hilary Clinton. He closed Hawthorne Lane at the end of its fifteen-year lease in 2009 to build a consulting practice for the hospitality industry, sharing his wealth of culinary and operational experiences with new and existing restaurants, assisting them to become successful and profitable.