I love risotto. I mean who doesn’t! It’s a creamy, lusciously decadent starchy dish that soothes the soul right down to the foodie core. The only issue I have with risotto is the stirring. It’s easy to make but time consuming as you tenderly add ladles of broth, stirring each one in allowing the rice to take its sweet old time absorbing the liquid until you get a fluffy, melt in your mouth consistency. I think there is a time and place for the care one has to put into making traditional risotto and it better be for someone you really like because standing over the stove stirring for 30+ minutes can be a pain. Until recently, I had no idea there was another way to my risotto heart until I stumbled across Ina Garten, in all her Hampton glory, making…GASP…BAKED RISOTTO (cover your ears Nana)! Once I managed to pull my chin off the floor, I did some digging. This baked risotto is like a thing…it exists…people make it, and LIKE it! I was having some friends to dinner last night, a combination of carnivores and vegetarians and of course my go-to veggie entertaining dish is risotto but after a 10 hr workday, I did not feel like stirring for hours, no matter how much I love my guests. So off I went in hunt of the baked mushroom risotto and inspiration was found with theKitchn’s baked mushroom risotto with caramelized onions.
I made some changes but in the end, this dish was a serious hit. My friend’s husband had I think 3 helpings! It took some prep work but I think it’s worth it. The recipe called for the surprising addition of balsamic vinegar, which I added less of than called for but loved as well as a few other additions of my own. And seriously, caramelized onions on top of risotto….yes please! So next time the risotto urge bites you, try this and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions
1/2 oz dried shitake or porcini mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped, hydration liquid reserved
2 c boiling water (for hydrating aforementioned mushrooms)
1/3 c olive oil, divided
4 yellow onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb cremini mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini (aka brown) and white mushrooms), cleaned and sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 dry white wine
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 c low sodium vegetable stock (could use chicken stock if not worried about being vegetarian), divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c frozen peas (use more if you love peas)
2 tbsp mascarpone
1/2 c parmesan, plus more for topping
Heat the oven to 350°F. Rehydrate the dried mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in a ceramic bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set them aside to steep for about 30 minutes. When done, remove the mushrooms and finely chop them, set aside. Reserve the rehydrating liquid.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a 3-quart (or larger) ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add all the sliced mushrooms and let them cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Flip the mushrooms and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until they are brown and a light crust is developing on the bottom of the pan. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Turn the heat to medium and add 2 more tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6-8 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden.
Add all the mushrooms (rehydrated and sliced) and rosemary sprig to the pan and sauté briefly, mixing with the onion and the rest of the mushrooms. Add the rice and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 4 minutes, or until the rice begins to turn transparent.
Turn the heat to high and add the white wine, vinegar, 2 cups of broth, and reserved mushroom steeping liquid. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as you add the liquid to deglaze any mushroomy bits sticking to the pan. Stir in the salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and put it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.
While the rice is baking, make the caramelized onions (though you might want to start this earlier because I find caramelizing onions in the true fashion can take 45 minutes). Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Cut the remaining three onions in half, and then slice them into thin half moons. Add them to the pan and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a dark mahogany brown. Let them go as long as you can.
When the risotto is finished baking, taste for consistency and seasoning. If still a bit al dente (more so than you like) return to the oven for 5 minutes. Once done, remove the rosemary stalk and stir in the mascarpone, peas, parmesan and ½ cup of broth (recommend microwaving broth for 30 seconds so that is warm or hot when added to the warm risotto) and any extra salt or black pepper you desire adding. Serve with caramelized onions and extra parmesan for topping.
Serve with side green salad.