mushroom risotto, porcini mushroom risotto, porcini mushrooms, risotto, risotto con porcini, vegetarian risotto
Having been pretty much raised by my dad, most of what I know about Neopolitan food comes from him. My mom passed away when I was 8 years old, which left my father to raise 3 children on his own. Having lived most of his life being cared for by either his own mother or his wife, he suddenly found himself on the other side of the table. Not knowing much about cooking, he had no choice but to jump in blindly and make sure we were fed. And fed we were!
He was an amazing cook. Truly. I can clearly remember his oh, so delicious stuffed peppers, which to this day I cannot seem to recreate. Perhaps I’m chasing a futile memory. And his lasagne. He would wake up early Sunday morning to make his tomato sauce. Then he would patiently roll tiny little meatballs to fill his lasagne with. Out of this world! I’m not sure how he managed to make such delicious food and I was too young to realize at the time what an undertaking this must have been for him. Fortunately, he was able to retire in his early 40’s to take care of me. I say fortunately, but it did come at a price. Having left Italy after World War II to work in the coal mines of Belgium, he was able to receive a substantial Belgian pension all because of his sick lungs.
One of my favourite dishes that my dad made was his Risotto con funghi Porcini. Porcini mushroom risotto. I’m not sure how he came to make such a delicious Northern Italian dish, but oh man it was good! So much so that I would request that dish as my birthday meal time and time again. It was the last birthday meal he made for me, when I was pregnant with my first, before he passed away. In my mind, I never imagined my dad not being there. I took it for granted that he would always make his risotto for me and therefore I never learned how he made it. Lucky for me though, my hubby did. Hubby would sit at the kitchen table and watch my father make his risotto. He watched and took notes of everything my dad did, timing his every move. And I am ever so thankful. It was hubby who took over with the making of this favourite dish of mine. There were many birthdays that I requested this dish and hubby came through every time. Funny thing is, I never made this dish myself. I can’t explain why. It’s my comfort dish. And I think it was all the more comforting because it was made by my dad, and then my hubby. Last night, I finally came around and decided to have a go at it. And you wouldn’t believe what hubby said. “Wow! It’s better than the one I make. Your dad would be really proud!”.
My Dad’s Risotto con Porcini
4 or 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
2 or 3 shallots, minced
Dry porcini mushrooms, a small handful
2 cups of Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
½ cup or so of white wine
6 to 7 cups of chicken stock, warm
1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, maybe a little more
Salt & pepper to taste
A few notes on the ingredients. You can use frozen porcini if they’re available, although I found them to be nowhere as flavourful as the dried porcini. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh porcini where you live, by all means use them.
I mentioned 6 to 7 cups of warm chicken stock. Because I use the soaking water of the porcini mushrooms, which I encourage you to do seeing as all the mushroom flavour is in there, I really only needed about 6 cups of stock. My theory when it comes to cooking with wine: use one good enough that you would drink. Trust me when I say there’s nothing better than having a glass of wine while making this risotto as you pretty much need to hover over it and constantly be stirring. It’s really not that bad if you’re sipping a good wine! My dad made his own wine and therefore used his, which was a heavy-bodied wine. I use whatever white wine I have on-hand, which this time around happened to be a BC Chardonnay from the Okanagan Valley, Mission Hill.
Begin by soaking the dry porcini mushrooms in a small bowl with about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of warm water. Let soak for about 15 minutes and then chop the mushrooms, reserving the mushroom water.
In a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and shallots. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, and then add the rice, stirring, ensuring that it gets coated with oil.
After about 3 minutes, add the white wine and stir. Wait until it has been absorbed by the rice, and then add the mushroom water. Once that has been absorbed, begin to add the warm chicken stock, ½ cup at a time. My ladle holds about ½ of liquid so it worked out perfectly. As you add your ½ cup of stock, you do need to keep stirring. I mean you need to constantly keep stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add ½ cup of stock at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice mixture is creamy and al dente. This will happen after about 6 cups of stock, but do check it after 5 ½ cups.
Once it’s done, al dente, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan. Check for salt and season with pepper. Serve immediately, sprinkled with freshly grated parmigiano over the top. Oh, so cheesy-creamy yummy! Mmmm!
Great & touching post Lidia…am now craving Risotto 😉
With the weather we’re having, I could eat risotto at every meal.
Really amazing post Lidia, your Dad is an amazing man. The risotto has a short list of ingredients but I can tell how delicious it is. Very glad you finally made it and it was such a success.
Thanks Suzanne. My dad really was an amazing man!
What a beautiful memory of your father. Well done with the dish – it looks incredible! Thank you for sharing this 🙂
Thank you! Keeping my dad’s memory alive is very important to me. 🙂
Mama's Gotta Bake said:
Your dad sounds awesome!
Lovely memories. I too grew up in a house where my father cooked and I still feel him with me in the kitchen.
That’s so beautiful!
Wonderful story about your dad; so moving. There is a huge community of Italians in Belgium, my best friend is from the Namur area and her mom is from Southern Italy too. The risotto looks delicious, I am imagining the amazing smell and creamy texture. Perfect for the weather too!
I still have all of my mom’s family living in Belgium. And I’ve been to Namur too! Risotto is just perfect for the arctic weather we’re having.
Sto arrivando Lidia, I can see That you learn so good from your lovely Father,great Dish.
Ti sto aspetando Massi! Il mio papa era tropo bravo!
Rosa de los Vientos said:
Dear Lidia, I am really moved by your family story. What a lovely father and how sad his lungs were damaged because of the work he had to do. And I can see through your blog that you take care of ‘the girls’ with the same love. The risotto seems perfectly ‘en su punto’ (I write this in Spanish because I actually don’t know how to say that in English)?. I think you worked out the post with such care. I agree with you that dried porcini have such a more rich taste, probably the process of drying ads flavour…? A big hug to you and your family. Rosa.
Oh Lidia! Beautiful memories of your Dad, I’m sure they helped enhance the flavour of the risotto. Rice is my number one comfort food too.
Every now and then I feel nostalgic and I guess it comes out in my writing. We’re having arctic weather here and risotto is perfect for that.
Funny thing is when I wrote the post, it wasn’t meant to be so moving. Just wanted to give a little history to this dish. As I re-read it though, I couldn’t help but hold back my tears! My dad really meant the world to me, and now my girls do. Thanks for seeing that Rosa! And I understand perfectly ‘en su pinto’. In English it might be ‘cooked to perfection’? You are so sweet Rosa! Gracias! Besito to you! xoxo
This is a lovely post Lidia. Its nice to have those memories. The dish looks very delicious!
Oh Isabel, thank you!
Pacific Merchants said:
I love the story behind this even more than I love the recipe itself (and I LOVE mushroom risotto.) Interesting to see yours more thick than runny. It seems that everywhere I go, the “right” consistency for risotto is different, but always delicious.
Thank you! As for the consistency, I know I tend to add more parmesan than I should, so perhaps I thicken it up just a tad. 🙂
Oh Lidia. You make me cry. Blogs are not just a place where put recipes hoping to gain some likes or some comments. Often blogs are a different way of sharing experiences, of expressing ourselves and an original way to put put in writing wondeful memories. I’m sure your risotto was amazing, be proud of you.
Grazie Margherita! Non volevo che sia commovente, ma poi quando l’ho letto, anche io mi sono messo a piangere! I think my risotto was pretty amazing, yes. xoxo
Transplanted Cook said:
Wonderful recipe. Lovely story. Your father must have been amazing!
My dad was wonderful! Thanks. 🙂
This is a perfect risotto Lidia! Comfort at it’s best, especially originating from your dad. Wonderful story, lovely post.
Thanks Seana. Any rice dish is a comfort to me, I just love rice. When I wasn’t feeling well, my dad used to cook arborio rice in some chicken stock, adding butter and parmesan. It was a thick soupy kind-of dish and it did the thing. Perhaps that’s why rice is at the top of my list for comfort foods.
Ada ~ More Food, Please said:
What a touching story about your father! This risotto looks so creamy and delicious 🙂
Oh, so creamy! And cheesy! I tend to add more cheese than is probably needed.
Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward said:
First, I am sorry that you lost your mother, and later your dad.
What a beautiful and touching story about your relationship with your dad through food. Thank you for sharing such a personal and treasured dish with all of us! I wonder if you had not made it previously because it was your dad’s dish – and maybe it would be painful? It is heart-warming that your hubby loves you so – he must to take charge of preparing your special recipe. I would request this for my birthday, too – so comforting, rich and flavorful.
I was also raised by my father, without a mother. Unfortunately, my dad was not much of a cook. All you need is one great parent as a child to transform into a wonderful, special and generous adult. You are proof of that.
Oh Shanna! I’ve said this before, but you really are sweet! I didn’t start out writing this post to be so emotional, but I guess that’s what usually happens when I write, or talk, about my dad. He truly was a beautiful man and I miss him dearly. I feel close to him when I’m recreating some of his dishes. And it’s always painful when thinking of my dad. I’m sorry you too were raised without a mom. I know how important a mom is, especially for young girls. It seems that you don’t miss a beat with your own Snu Magoo and Littlest Guy. We should both be proud of ourselves! xoxo
Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward said:
Lidia, Yes, we should both be very proud of ourselves. I often think about how fortunate my kids are to have a loving mom who takes good care of them. Your dad sounds like he was just a lovely soul. I hope that you share more of his dishes with us. Food is about more than ingredients; it is also flavored with memories. Have a wonderful day… Warm wishes, Shanna
My dad had the loveliest of souls! And you are so right about the foods we cook being made up of memories. Well said! Thank you Shanna! 🙂
Johnny Hepburn said:
Wonderful post. And a perfect risotto. I’ve been keeping a pack of dried mushrooms for a risotto like this for a while now. Just don’t want to make it quite yet as it’ll need home-made chicken stock, especially as I don’t drink. Since my cold x 3 last Dec I haven’t eaten meat. Not a problem. They’ll keep!
Oh Johnny, did being sick turn you off meat? I wish I could stay off meat for so long. I’m sure this would be just as delish with a vegetable stock.
Esther Bolofer said:
Lidia darling, papa’s cooking is the best. I missed my papa too. And any more bloggers sending you music ,etc?
You are too cute Esther! I know you miss your papa! xoxo
The Novice Gardener said:
Lidia, this is such a wonderful tribute to your dad. And the recipe is perfection. I was all set to make saffron risotto, but I think I’ll get dried porcine and try your dad’s instead. Why am I so lucky? Thanks so much, Lidia, for sharing, truly. XOXO
Thanks Angie! It’s my way of keeping my dad alive, I guess. And saffron risotto is just as delicious. Let me know if you do give this a try. xoxo
funny how we associate memories with flavors and smells. i still fondly recall the smell of my dad’s seafood gumbo simmering in the kitchen for hours on end.
often times, i think simple risotto is the best risotto. i might try to whip up a batch of your dad’s as soon as i can get my hands on some parmigiano. forgive me if i throw in a little broccoli or a few stalks of chopped asparagus.
thanks for the awesome post.
Thank you Misha for such kind words. I agree, my memories are filled with flavours and smells. Some of which I can recreate, and some that I just can’t seem to put my finger on. But I keep trying! And the beauty of risotto is its versatility. You can throw just about anything in it and it’ll be delish! 🙂
Fae's Twist & Tango said:
Very touching story of your Father, Darling Lidia. What a dedicated man, and knew how to care for his children, being a Dad and a Mom at the same time. I raised my son by myself and know how it feels, and your Dad has three of you. What a lovely recipe that comes with story and so many rich memories.
Thank you Fae. I know it must have been quite the task for you too, raising your son on your own. Just wanting to give a little history behind this risotto, I didn’t realize how sentimental this post was going to be until I read it in its entirety. I guess I was missing him and my writing about him was a reflection of this.
Tea with Erika said:
Mmmmm! Mouthwatering! I love Porcini risotto! Got to try your version 🙂
It’s especially great during this deep freeze we’re going through here. It’s a “stick-to-your-ribs” kinda dish.
Lovely post and a lovely looking risotto. Your Dad sounds like an amazing man.
Thank you! The risotto really is delish, so creamy and cheesy. And my dad really was awesome!
Conor Bofin said:
Oh, Lidia, your story is heart warming. I am pretty sure that risotto is too. Stefan over at Stefangourmet.com sent me some lovely dried porcini. I have used some in risotto. Delicious.
Thank you Conor! I didn’t realize this story would be so moving… it wasn’t what I had intended initially. I’ve really only ever had dried porcini in risotto and I much prefer it to the frozen ones. I bet fresh porcini would be amazing!
Conor Bofin said:
I have had the fresh. They are fantastic but they really don’t have the huge intensity of meaty flavour that the dried manage to produce. The drying really intensifies the flavours.
Interesting. One always assumes fresh is better. But not in this case. I could see that drying the mushrooms would intensify the flavour, adding that extra yumminess to your risotto. Thank you Conor!
Mary Frances said:
What a great post! I too have fond memories associated with risotto. It is such an amazing comfort food!
Thank you Mary Frances! Nothing beats a risotto on a cold, winter night.
Gather and Graze said:
Such a beautiful post Lidia. So lovely that your husband sat and learned from your father how to make this dish and then has continued to make it for you over the years. The ultimate comfort food! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and story.
Oh, thank you Margot!
Lidia, what a sweet, sweet story about your dad. It’s these types of memories that we cherish forever. I lost my mom this year and your post brought tears to my eyes. The risotto looks delicious and anything with mushrooms has my name all over it!
Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss Colleen! Truly sorry! Mom’s are so special. And thank you for your kind words!
Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide said:
This is perfection. I am addicted to risotto and dried porcinis.
Me too! 🙂
what a wonderful recipe and post?!
Thank you so much!
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl said:
This looks delicious, would be a perfect dinner! Definitely adding to the menu.
Oh, so perfect during this Polar Vortex we’re experiencing!
Happy New Year!
Love the look of this risotto. I have bookmarked the recipe and must make it for dinner one of these evenings. Will give you a feedback. Best wishes!
It’s my favourite risotto! Happy New Year to you Liz!
Oh honey! Your beautiful post made me cry! Such an amazing father and such a moving story about the stunning recipe! I’m so happy that your husband learnt how to make it for you and your girls! Your dad’s gorgeous risotto lives on and now in our lives too xxx
Oh Dimple! I’ve been missing my dad, and when that happens I cook up some of his favourite foods. And mine! xoxox
Oh honey! It must be hard but at the same time it’s so nice that you can make his favourite recipes and think of him xxx
What a lovely post, Lidia. I know your dad would definitely be smiling with approval. You certainly have to be very proud of the way he raised you…that had to be very difficult for him and he did it with such love.
Thanks Karen! I can’t express enough how truly amazing he was. Wish my girls could have known him. And in some way, they do. I’m always talking about him and his favourite foods!
Maria Dernikos said:
What a lovely post. How lucky to have such a caring husband to have taken notes and lucky us for you sharing such a wonderful recipe.
I know Maria. I need to remember that a little more often!
Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen said:
You made me teary here tonight, Lidia. I can just picture you as a little girl and your Dad working so hard to become a great cook so that he could take the best care of you. What a wonderful man he was, it shows in your words. I cooked with dried porcini for the first time and now I know I will have to pick some up again so that I can make this risotto.. it looks fabulous and a great family recipe is always the best!xx
Thank you Barbara! I love to share memories of my dad and his food. Especially with my girls!
Tandy | Lavender and Lime said:
what a beautiful memory, and recipe you have shared with us! thank you so much 🙂
Thank you Tandy. I love sharing food memories with you all!
Bam's Kitchen said:
I am a little misty eyed as I type my response. What a beautiful heartfelt post. I am sure your dad would be very proud of this post and what a fantastic mom and cook you have become, all because of his efforts. Your dad’s risotto is so comforting and looks so delicious. Take Care, BAM
Oh Bam, thank you! I am amazed that my words have so many of my blogging friends as I thought I was just sharing a food memory. I guess I’m missing my dad and it came across as such in my post. xox
Cheesy Biscuit said:
Delicious, and what a lovely way to remember your dad with every bite 🙂
Thanks! Many of the foods I make are in memory of my dad.
Cheesy Biscuit said:
Food can carry such love 🙂
This looks so good! I love porcini, especially in a risotto.
I love porcini too. And this is an amazingly good risotto!
Your Dad sounds like he was a wonderful man and father, Lidia. And how about that Husband of yours? He knew how much this dish meant to you and made sure that the recipe wasn’t lost. He’s a keeper! 🙂
Your Dad’s recipe is almost exactly like ours, the only difference being the use of shallots and not onion. Isn’t it delicious? We didn’t prepare this often, though. Porcini were a rarity and we used fresh when this risotto was made. I had planned to blog the recipe and already have the dried porcini. I’ve since learned that one of the fishmongers has porcini in Spring and I decided to wait to see if I can get fresh. If so, I’d like to surprise Zia with them. Regardless, thank you for sharing a bit of your Dad with us. I know you must miss him but how lucky you were to have him in your life. He sounds like one of a kind.
Lucky you for being able to get your hands on fresh porcini. I am envious! I bet it makes a world of difference. I’m sure Zia will be elated. And thank you John for your kind words, as always. My dad truly was a remarkable man!
Good Food Everyday said:
Thank you for sharing. What a lovely post !