We’re fortunate to find many edible varieties of wild mushrooms where we live, and we use them to make Wild Mushroom Risotto.  The dish is something we make to celebrate the rich variety of mushrooms in the Northeast.  And every time I make it I say merci to our dear friend Gerry Miller, mycologist, artist and shaman who taught me everything I know about foraging. With his harvests every year, we were able to offer wild mushroom risotto at our restaurant throughout the late summer and fall.

This photo below shows an especially fruitful haul from a few years back.  In fact, it was a trophy day of mushroom hunting when I discovered these huge Boletus edulus (porcini, cep or king bolete) a few minutes from the house.

Boletus edulis

Such a find deserves to be honored.  Sliced, sautéed in butter and served on toast is one good option for fresh wild mushrooms. This pan of porcini sauteed in oil and butter with little orange faux chanterelles ended up on toast.

And of course, we also like to show off wild mushrooms in risotto. I always like a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms. The combination is aromatic, and it gives the risotto a layered texture. I like to serve it with game in the fall. Quail or pheasant for example.

We add truffle juice when making wild mushroom risotto, which we keep in the freezer just for this dish.  It is optional but really heightens the taste.

Although it sounds radically indulgent, truffle juice is not that expensive. You can buy it from D’Artagnan or Urbani. We never use truffle oil, the majority of which is made from manufactured flavors that obliterate the nuances of the real thing.

Kitchen Notebook

Learning to forage for wild mushrooms is one of the more rewarding things I have done in my life.  And you can do it too. First thing to do is get out a nice notebook and your favorite pen.  And now write down this expression:

“There are old mushroom hunters. There are bold mushroom hunters. But there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

Once you have memorized that phrase, you can get started. To learn about foraging resources for your area, call your local agricultural extension service. They usually have leads on who brings groups on field trips. The Mycological Society of America is for serious botanists but it can direct you to local mushroom clubs in your area. Get your hands on a well-regarded mushroom identification manual for your area too but never eat anything without having it confirmed by a recognized expert. We were fortunate to hang out with Roger Phillips when he was researching and photographing his books on North American mushrooms.  I use these books as tools, but I am unadventurous about picking anything unfamiliar.

For those of you that do forage, here is a tip from Gerry. Porcini, chanterelles and lactarius (great for texture), appear at more or less the same time each summer. When there is a bumper crop of mushrooms, dry them in a slow oven. First, sort them by variety, as Gerry recommends. It gives you a second chance to look closely at what you’ve foraged in case any inedible types landed in your basket.  Then slice and dry them overnight on baking sheets in a 250°F oven. Once you have dried and packaged them, you’ll know what you have.  Suillus luteus (Slippery Jack) and Suillus americanus (Slippery cap), for example, develop a more intense flavor when dried.  Something good to know when you’re rifling through the pantry in the dead of winter trying to make mushroom soup.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Yield: 4 servings

This recipe makes four generous portions of risotto as a separate course or enough for six when served with another component. We like to serve it with grilled veal chops or roasted game.

If there is any risotto leftover, cool it then pack it into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for a day or two or freeze it before using. When ready to use the risotto, place it in a slope-sided pan. Add a small amount of chicken stock to loosen it up then place it over low heat. Stir the risotto constantly until it warms through. The texture will change but none of the flavor will be lost. We also form leftover risotto into small cakes that can be pan fried in olive oil.


6 to 10 ounces fresh wild mushrooms such as ceps, chanterelles or cultivated portobellos

1 ounce dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup finely minced shallots, about 1 large

salt and fresh ground black pepper

4 to 5 cups homemade stock

1 ½ cups arborio rice

¼ to ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 Tablespoons black truffle juice, optional


  1. Trim the stems from the fresh mushrooms. Set them aside for stock making. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. If necessary, quarter large caps before slicing them.
  2. Drain the dried mushrooms and reserve their soaking liquid for the risotto. Trim any tough bits from the dried mushrooms and discard. Set the mushrooms aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large, slope-sided saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over medium high heat until pale golden in color.
  4. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms release some of their juices, for another 6 to 10 minutes.
  5. While the mushrooms cook, bring the broth and mushroom soaking liquid to a simmer in a separate pot.
  6. Add the risotto to the sautéed mushrooms and shallots. Cook for approximately 5 minutes to slightly toast the grains.
  7. Increase the heat to high and add 1 cup of stock to the rice. Cook stirring constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add liquid, a cup at a time as needed, stirring until the risotto is tender but still chewy, approximately 20 minutes. Add water should additional liquid be needed.
  8. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining Tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the truffle juice, if using it and serve immediately.