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Creamy Saffron Risotto with Mixed Mushrooms



I am not Italian but I just love to make (and eat) risotto! This recipe was inspired in the traditional Risotto Milanese – which is a risotto infused with lots of saffron. I added mixed mushrooms, some earthy scented herbs and my Special White Sauce to this Italian classic. The result is an extra creamy, perfumed and rich risotto. If you are a vegetarian, use vegetable broth as a substitute for the beef broth. I recommend enjoying with a glass of Chianti and very good company!

Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces mixed mushrooms (crimini, oyster, shiitake), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, minced
  • ¼ cup brandy or cognac
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cups beef stock, preferably home made
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup Cynthia’s Special White Sauce (see Cook’s Notes)
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add mushrooms, rosemary and oregano. Sauté for about one minute; then add brandy and flame, stirring constantly until flames dye down. Cook until mushrooms are soft, two additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside, uncovered.

In a large sauce pan, bring beef stock to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep stock at a low simmer.

Place saffron threads in a small bowl and add 1 ladle of hot beef stock. Set aside and allow infusing for a few minutes.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Add rice and stir well until grains are well coated with butter. Turn heat down to medium and add saffron threads along with the ladle of beef stock where threads were soaking. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly until liquid is nearly absorbed; then add more beef stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly, until rice is cooked al dente (see Cook’s Notes). The cooking process should last in between 18 and 23 minutes and risotto should have a creamy, almost slightly soupy texture when ready.

Remove risotto from heat and fold in mushrooms, white sauce and Parmesan cheese. Divide into individual bowls and serve immediately.


Cook’s Notes:

Cynthia’s Special White Sauce recipe must be done prior to the risotto, since its cooking time might take up to 1 hour. This sauce will give wonderful flavor to the risotto and make it extra creamy. If you are in a hurry, substitute Cynthia’s Special White Sauce for a mixture of ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup mascarpone. I still HIGHLY recommend that you use Cynthia’s Special White Sauce in this recipe. Click here for recipe.

Al dente describes the texture of pasta, rice, or vegetable that is cooked through but it is still firm to the bite. In Italian, al dente literally means “to the tooth”. The traditional Italian risotto is just a bit firmer than the risotto normally served at most Italian restaurants in the United States. The ratio of 1 ½ cup of Arborio rice to 4 cups of broth would be of a traditional Italian risotto (and that’s how I like my risotto). For a slightly softer bite (but still al dente) use a ratio of 5 cups of broth for 1 ½ cup Arborio rice (that’s how my husband likes risotto).

Beef broth can be replaced by vegetable broth in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts:

4 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 343.3
Total Fat 23.8 g
Saturated Fat 13.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.4 g
Cholesterol 57.1 mg
Sodium 587.7 mg
Potassium 606.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.9 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Protein 10.7 g


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