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Porcini mushroom risotto, my grandma’s recipe

I spent the whole weekend working at home but I made it, I finished the book translation. When last night I was stuck in the traffic on the freeway clogged up by the renewal works I was happy, jammed, lit by the red shades of the car stoplights, but happy. I was done. A strange sense of lightness mixed with the anxiety due to the unknown future made me euphoric. And then I finally ate a great risotto with porcini mushrooms to celebrate the moment…

Porcini mushroom risotto

Grandma, dad and the mushrooms

When autumn comes my grandmother becomes restless, she looks at the sky, at the forest, listening to the stories of the other inhabitants of our village. She begins to get the right tools ready: comfortable shoes, long trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, a walking cane and a wicker basket. I do not know how many times during my primary school she would make me a good lunch and she would run away, she had to get into the woods before dark, searching for mushrooms.

She always loved to venture herself into the woods or in the pine forest, silent, examining with her expert eyes every corner under the oaks or bushes of sorghum. Then Grazia and Maura, my grandmother’s friends, came into our family and the wood and the mushrooms became an unmissable appointment in autumn, a chance to spend some time with friends. Now, Grazia, Maura and grandma are well-known for venturing deep into the woods, getting lost a few times and every time coming back home by a different route, but always bringing something interesting and good in their baskets.

Dad has an extraordinary eye for mushrooms, too.

He rarely ventures himself into the wood searching for mushrooms, but when he takes the basket and goes, he has always something interesting for us. During my university years, we went to visit a friend with the whole family in the woods around Montieri. We were walking along a forest path to digest a generous lunch of grilled meat and sausages, when my dad left the group, went into the scrub and shortly after came out with a porcini. This happened several times, leaving all the group amazed and filling with pride in the heart of his daughter.

Porcini mushroom risotto

My grandma’s porcini mushroom risotto

Last Friday grandma, dad and Claudia went searching for mushrooms again and came back home with a few porcini. The time had come to make my grandma’s porcini mushroom risotto…

This is how we usually make risotto at home, classic for us, heretic for the real tradition of risotto, let’s face it. No butter but good extra virgin olive oil, plus the risotto creaminess is due to an energetic stirring of the rice throughout the cooking, as to naturally massage the creamy starch out of the rice. If you prefer, you can still use butter instead of olive oil and add a knob of butter and a good handful of Parmigiano at the end, out of the stove, to cream the risotto.

If you do not have fresh porcini mushrooms you can still use frozen ones, even though the risotto won’t have the same intensity, or a sachet of good quality dried porcini. I admit I used often frozen porcini, nobody’s perfect.

You can also find this porcini mushroom risotto in my upcoming book, it is almost ready. Let’s say this is a sneak preview all for you!

Porcini mushroom risotto

A porcini mushroom risotto with a light aromatic stock made with fresh herbs.
5 from 4 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course First course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people


  • 1.5 l water
  • 1 bunch fresh herbs, sage, rosemary, calamint
  • Salt
  • 500 g porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 400 g Carnaroli rice
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
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  • Make the stock to cook the mushroom risotto: it is not a typical vegetable stock. It is made with a bunch of fresh herbs that are traditionally paired with mushrooms, especially the calamint.
  • Boil the water with a good pinch of salt and a bunch of fresh herbs for 5 minutes, then strain it and leave it aside.
  • Clean the fresh mushrooms and chop them roughly.
  • Heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan with two cloves of garlic. When the garlic turns golden, add the mushrooms. If you use frozen mushrooms, add them into the pan without thawing them first.
  • Cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes until soft.
  • Season with salt and set them aside.
  • In a large pot, sauté the thinly sliced onion with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive over low heat, until it softens.
  • Pour in the rice and let it toast, stirring often, until translucent.
  • Add a ladleful of stock and stir the rice until absorbed.
  • Keep adding ladlefuls of herb stock, stirring vigorously and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. It will take about 15 minutes.
  • Now add the mushrooms, stir thoroughly to mix all the flavours and cook for 5 more minutes, adding more stock if necessary.
  • When the rice is al dente, remove it from the heat, add a few tablespoons of grated Parmigiano and cream the rice with a wooden spoon. Serve immediately.
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When in London, in my beloved English kitchen (I mean, it is not mine, but I feel at home there) I followed the same process used to make this risotto with porcini mushrooms to make a risotto with fresh chanterelles bought at Borough Market for Sarka and Regula. So, once you have a method, use it for the mushrooms you prefer and let me know!

Link Love

Here’s a list of other favourite mushroom recipes to bookmark for your lucky days, when someone will gift you with a basked crammed of underwood scented mushrooms.

Porcini mushroom risotto

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. I could almost see your grandma and her friends foraging in the woods, perhaps even singing a song while walking. Lovely story and a delicious dish. You made it for us in London and it really is the most comforting bowl of food!

  2. Finding wild mushrooms is such a dream of mine! This risotto looks so yummy. Thanks for the link love, as well.

  3. What fun for you as a child! Searching for funghi is something we have never done on our visits to Italy, yet we keep it on our list..maybe next time! Thanks for sharing the nice memories (and great recipe!).

  4. Hello Jul,
    I am so glad that I found your blog. I have tons of my grandmother’s recipe mostly handwritten and placed safely inside my diary. The risotto looks warm and inviting. I love the addition of mushroom. I briefly browsed through your posts and I am sure that I will be back often to check your recipes. Let’s stay connected.

  5. Memories like these make a dish even more special, don’t they? Love this dish in Autumn, nothing beats a porcini risotto and yours looks gorgeous!

  6. 5 stars
    Dear Giulia,

    It was my first attempt at cooking a risotto, and also the first recipe I ever tried from your blog. Let me tell you… it is amazingly delicious! Perfectly balanced, full of flavour and freshness. I played with ingredients a tiny bit: added some dried mushrooms to the broth, and used coriander instead of sage, etc… But it is just me, I’m always experimenting in the kitchen, your grandma’s recipe is perfect as it is now! Most exquisite dish! My compliments, and many thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Hi Katya, thank you so much for your kind feedback! I am so happy you enjoyed the risotto, and besides this, I am a great supporter of playing with ingredients!! So I am looking forward to seeing which will be the next experiment! 🙂

  7. Would it be ok to use brown carnaroli rice for this? Do you know how that would affect the cooking time?

  8. This looks delicious. if you can not source fresh porcini can you use dried? Or better to use a different type of fresh mushroom?

    1. Hi Gabrielle, yes, you can make it with dried porcini, it works just as well. If you cannot find porcini you can also use fresh chanterelles.

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