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“Poor Man’s Truffle” Risotto

“Poor Man’s Truffle” Risotto God meant risotto to be cooked in the woods over an open fire while you hold a wine glass in one hand and a spoon in the other, while surrounded by dear friends after a long day of mushroom hunting. This is absolutely true. With your butter, cheese, and mushroom stock from home steaming over the fire, plus the mushrooms you’ve hunted, you’re likely to have the best risotto and the best campfire meal of your life. With many hands to stir and friends all around the fire, risotto becomes a communion that would make mushroom-loving Italian peasants of decades past proud. Wild mushrooms like porcini or chanterelles found during other seasons are welcome into this ideal camp risotto. The required flourish of mascarpone makes it clear that this isn’t hobo-risotto.

If you have to make risotto indoors, consider curing the black trumpets into the small pieces that have been used for a little black truffle fakery. This trick resulted in the pet name “poor man’s truffles.” To take the charade one step further, you can finish with a little superior-quality truffle oil.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ pound black trumpet mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 cups Traditional Mushroom Stock
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 1½ cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone
  1. Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the mushrooms, tossing quickly to coat with the butter. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring, as the mushrooms release their liquid. Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are dry. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Place the mushroom stock and 1 cup water in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Place a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and stir to coat evenly with the butter and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice starts to turn translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine. Cook, stirring constantly, until all this liquid is absorbed. Ladle in 1 cup of the mushroom stock. Add another ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice mixture starts to feel heavy as you stir it. The more vigorously you stir, the more starches in the rice are released, creating a creamier texture. Ladle in another 3 cups of stock and repeat the stirring after each cup. After the fourth addition of stock, add the mushrooms and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and continue stirring until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender to the bite.
  5. The cooking time will be 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and mascarpone. Taste for seasoning, adjust as desired, and serve immediately.

Tips and Techniques

If the risotto must sit a few minutes before serving, ladle in a little more of the stock to restore the creamy consistency.

Substitutions and Variations

Drizzle the finished risotto with some excellent-quality white truffle oil.

This risotto recipe will work with many mushrooms varieties.

You can add chopped fresh herbs to the risotto just before serving: chives, flat-leaf parsley, or thyme, for example.

You can use homemade or canned chicken broth or vegetable broth as a substitute for the mushroom stock.

You can substitute crѐme fraîche for the mascarpone.