Mushroom & Champagne Risotto

I wrote this Mushroom & Champagne risotto post for Oprah Magazine South Africa’s blog and you can read it here

Unfortunately, geo-blocking prevents certain viewers outside South Africa from accessing it. I’ve included the recipe below with a full set of images. It really is a fantastic risotto-  fresh and dried mushrooms add incredible depth of flavour, bubbles add to the luxury and so does the glug of fresh cream and parmesan cheese.

Mushroom & Champagne Risotto

In May this year, at Italian chef Enrica Rocca’s cooking school in Venice, I made my very first risotto – a velvety black cuttlefish risotto served with a generous grating of Parmigiano. There couldn’t have been a more intimidating initiation but, fortunately, the dish turned out to be less complicated than I anticipated. Emboldened by courage (your best weapon in the kitchen), I’ve since made a range of risottos.

I was making a mushroom risotto one night when I realised there wasn’t a drop of wine in the house. So I reached for a bottle of bubbly instead, with gorgeous results. Well, technically, I used Method Cap Classique, but feel free to use Champagne or a not-too-sweet white wine. After all, you should only cook with what you’d like to drink.

Here, the depth of flavour is intensified by using hydrated porcini mushrooms together with fresh mushrooms, and it’s finished it off with a little fresh cream.


1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 20 minutes

850 ml vegetable stock (I used a liquid fond to make mine, by NoMu)

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 medium onions, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

400 g risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli or vialone nana)

375 ml Champagne, MCC or dry white wine

2 cups mushrooms of your choice, sliced

50 ml fresh cream or 2 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Small handful Italian parsley, chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Add liquid from dried porcini mushrooms to stock, but don’t add the last spoonful as it often has a bit of sandy sediment. Pour stock in a pot and simmer on a low heat, with the lid on.

In wide-bottomed pan, add olive oil and fry onions slowly on a low heat, until cooked through and softened but still opaque.

After 4 to 5 minutes, add garlic and stir.

Add rice and stir, allowing it to become slightly translucent. (Note: This is not always easy to see with some types of rice.)

After 3 minutes, add Champagne. (It will smell heavenly at this point!) Allow the alcohol to evaporate.

Once the Champagne has cooked into the rice, turn down the heat to a simmer and add the stock ladleful by ladleful, allowing each one to be fully absorbed before you add the next. This is where your arm strength and patience will come into play – you need to keep stirring gently but firmly. The goal is for you to use all the stock and cook the risotto until it is soft with a little bite, but not gloopy or overcooked. This could take about 25 minutes, depending on your rice and the heat setting of your stove.

Add 1 cup of the fresh mushrooms and ½ cup porcini mushrooms once ½ the stock is used up. Add seasoning at this point, and again once the rice is cooked, according to taste. Add the remaining mushrooms 5 minutes before the end.

Once done, remove the pot from the plate, add the cream and stir through. Serve immediately with parsley and grated Parmesan.


You can substitute the alcohol for 375 ml vegetable or chicken stock





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