If you’re in the market for an awkward experience, try editing mushroom risotto pictures on an airplane. I caught the sweet older gentleman in the window seat eyeing my screen while I zoomed in and out on ambiguous brown mush. I hunched over and tried to use my hair as a shield. Didn’t work. I hope he likes risotto?
This dish may not be a looker, but good gracious, it’s delicious. So delicious that I had to stop myself from inhaling the whole pot of risotto while it was still hot. So delicious that I ate it for breakfast three days in a row because it sounded better than anything else. So delicious that you should definitely make this risotto on date night.
I’ve had mushroom risotto on my list since girls’ night a while back. Jordan was out of white rice, so she used short-grain brown rice, which took a LOT of stirring and absolutely forever to cook (seriously, over twice as long as white rice). Fortunately, we had plenty of wine to sip in the meantime. We finally sat down around the table with bowls of mushroom risotto, fresh salads and more wine before us.
That brown rice risotto blew away all the other risottos I’d ever tasted. Brown rice risotto is inherently more flavorful, with a light nuttiness and tender bite that pairs perfectly with sautéed mushrooms.
That dinner inspired me to find an easier brown rice risotto cooking method because, as much as I enjoy cooking, I don’t want to spend a whole hour straight stirring a pot. Months ago, I tried Mark Bittman’s simplified risotto method using brown rice, but it still wasn’t simple enough.
More recently, I came across Ina Garten’s easy baked Parmesan “risotto” method that only requires a few minutes of stirring at the end. Her recipe reminded me of America’s Test Kitchen’s baked brown rice recipe, which I shared a few years ago.
I wondered, what would happen if I combined the two? The most marvelous brown rice risotto, that’s what! I just had to add mushrooms this time around, but I have a whole list of other risotto flavors to try. I even have some ideas for how to make a luxurious vegan version (check the recipe notes).
So here’s how this brown rice risotto method works: First, you sauté some aromatics in a Dutch oven. Then you pour in the broth and bring it to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover the pot and bake for a solid hour of stir-free risotto time. You can prepare your mix-ins while the rice is baking.
Once your hour is up, remove the pot from the oven and stir in some requisite butter, Parmesan and seasonings. Stir for a good two to three minutes and watch while the starches in the rice magically turn the mixture into creamy, pillowy, wanna-curl-up-in-the-bowl goodness. Ta da! Brown rice risotto with minimal effort.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 5 cups (40 ounces) vegetable broth, divided (if your broth comes in 32-ounce containers, feel free to avoid opening another container by substituting 1 cup water for 1 cup broth in step 3)
- 1½ cups brown arborio/short-grain brown rice
- 12 to 14 ounces sliced Cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms, debris rinsed from mushrooms and drained
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup dry white wine, optional
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 2 teaspoons tamari (for extra flavor, optional)*
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed from stems and larger leaves torn into small pieces
- Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes, then add the minced garlic. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, until the onions are well browned.
- Add 4 cups broth (or 3 cups broth and 1 cup water), cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in the rice. Cover the pot and bake until rice is tender and cooked through, about 65 to 70 minutes. It will seem pretty dry when you take off the lid, but don't worry!
- During the last 20 minutes of baking time, prepare the mushrooms. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the cleaned, sliced mushrooms to the pot with a dash of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are darker in color, fragrant and have soaked up most of their own juices, about 13 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the oven. Pour in the remaining cup of broth, the Parmesan, wine, butter, tamari, salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Stir in the mushroom mixture and any remaining juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide into bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of torn, fresh oregano leaves.
*Make it gluten free: Be sure your tamari is gluten free or skip the tamari altogether.
*Make it soy free: Skip the tamari.
Make it vegan: The starch in the short-grain rice is responsible for most of the risotto's creaminess, so you can skip the Parmesan and add a vegan butter substitute or some extra olive oil, to taste, in place of the butter.
Storage suggestions: This risotto keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days.
Change it up: Feel free to substitute any prepared vegetables for the mushrooms!
If you must use white arborio rice: Bake it for 40 to 45 minutes, until tender to the bite, and proceed as directed.