Earthy, Spooky Mushroom Risotto

“Risotto is a quick and easy dish, with no great magic to it. People act like you have to be an expert to get it right but you don’t; you buy the ingredients, tip them in and stir. Any idiot can do it. I fry the ‘artisanal’ mushrooms with garlic, onion, and few herbs (fresh, obviously) in a pan before tipping in the rice and stock which I made from leftover chicken earlier in the week–no stock cubes allowed here. Then it’s just stir, stir, stir.”

The Chalet, Catherine Cooper

To get a really earthy, musty taste the truffle oil is essential – the heat of the risotto causes wafts of wonderful truffle scent titillating the senses of the anticipating eater. You can use ordinary dried porcini mushrooms, or you can use trumpets of the dead. If you use those, you can play anything by stunning trumpeter Alison Balsom – I still like one of her first albums, Caprice, best – to ensure you enjoy your time in the kitchen. For a flavour of how she can really belt out a tune watch the youtube clip below.

You can add to the earthy spookiness of the trumpets of the dead by seasoning with the enticingly evil black isot pepper, and substituting the Parmesan for blue cheese. Why does the blue cheese go so well with the mushrooms? Because the blue hue of blue cheese is due to the presence of fungi – which echo many of the same flavour compounds as mushrooms.

For more tips and information on making risotto follow this link.

This is very rich, especially if you use gravy rather than stock, so serve with a crisp, fresh green salad – try fresh Titanic salad.

If you have any leftover risotto, you can make simple arancini (post to come).

Drink with a smokey, liquoricey, South African pinot noir.

mushroom risotto recipe
mushroom risotto recipe

Recipe for earthy, spooky, mushroom risotto

Serves 4


  • 200g/1 cup carnaroli risotto rice
  • 1 litre/5 cups of stock made with three chicken stock cubes – or you can use leftover gravy.
  • 30g porcini mushrooms – or trumpets of the dead if you can find them.
  • 500g mushrooms
  • about a foot of Italian sausage, or three British sausages (leave out if you are a vegetarian, obviously)
  • 1 large wine glass½ cup of martini rosato
  • 50g chopped parsley, including most of the stalks; or some fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp truffle oil (the stuff made by infusing real truffles)
  • olive oil – about two tbsp.
  • butter – about 100g – several ‘knobs’. cut it into cubes and keep in the fridge or freezer
  • 2 cups of Parmesan or, even better if you have it, substitute half a cup of Parmesan for some crumbled blue cheese (leftover in your fridge is fine) to sprinkle over at the end.
  • 1 onion – peeled and chopped small
  • smoked salt – but go easy on this, TASTE FIRST, because both stock and Parmesan can be very salty.
  • pepper – ideally if you have it the beguilingly chocolatey isot pepper (which, of course, isn’t really pepper) or the earthy Indonesian long pepper.


  1. Crumble the dried mushrooms into a small bowl, and just cover in just boiled water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  2. In a good solid Le Creusset-type saucepan fry the sausage hard in the olive oil to get it really caramelised, this can take a while, add the chopped onion, fry for five minutes or so until transparent.
  3. Add the rice, fry for about three minutes more – toast it thoroughly until it’s sizzling hot, cracking and opaque!
  4. Add a wine glass of rosato vermouth and stir until absorbed, and the alcohol has evaporated off.
  5. Add the stock – about half a cup at a time.
  6. Meanwhile, peel and chop the mushrooms.
  7. About two-thirds of the stock in, add the mushrooms; and the dried mushrooms and their juice (leaving any gritty bits behind).
  8. Snip most of the parsley in, including most of the stems, but reserving some for garnish.
  9. When all the liquid is absorbed (you may not need quite all of it because of the liquid from the dried mushrooms) take the saucepan off the heat and cover. leave for a couple of minutes.
  10. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan.
  11. Serve with two teaspoons of truffle oil on the top of each serving and some chopped parsley or thyme.

Music to cook to

The fabulous trumpet of Alison Balsom, playing Rondo alla Turca

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