This easy mushroom risotto recipe is perfect for fall! It’s served with creamy pumpkin and spicy chorizo sausage, then topped with Parmesan cheese.
Weekends are wild at my house. I would like to sit here and pretend that it’s because we are such social butterflies that our presence is constantly in demand. No, it’s because we have a whirlwind of a two-year-old under our roof. A two-year-old who is ALL BOY, by every definition of the word. A two-year-old who never stops moving unless he is sleeping.
Maybe that’s why I have found the process of making this easy mushroom risotto strangely therapeutic. Risotto doesn’t like to be rushed. It doesn’t like to be hurried along. You don’t need to be quick on your feet or have the reflexes of a jack rabbit to keep up. You stand in front of a stove and stir, and stir, and stir some more. And if there is a glass of wine within arm’s reach, it’s that much more enjoyable.
What is Chorizo?
Unless you do a lot of Latin American cooking, chorizo may not be an ingredient you are familiar with. It’s a spicy sausage made from ground pork, chili peppers and vinegar. There are two types of chorizo — Spanish and Mexican. Spanish is cured. Mexican is raw, like ground beef or ground Italian sausage, and needs to be cooked. We’re using Mexican chorizo in this recipe.
I typically find chorizo near the bacon in the refrigerated section at my store (it may be close to the top of the rack if it’s not a big seller in your area). If you can’t find chorizo, Bon Appetit recommends combining a pound of hot Italian sausage with smoked paprika and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You could also use hot Italian sausage, but it will change the flavor profile as Italian sausage is seasoned using fennel and doesn’t have the smokiness of the chili peppers that the chorizo does.
The Best Type of Rice to Use for Risotto
Traditional risotto recipes use Arborio rice. Arborio is a short-grained rice that doesn’t undergo the same milling process as ordinary long-grained rice you may be more familiar with. This difference allows Arborio to keep a lot of its starch content, which is slowly released as it cooks and produces a more creamy texture. In order to achieve this, however, you have to cook the rice low and slow. Cooking liquid is added gradually and stirred in between each addition, until the rice is tender.
You should be able to find Arborio in the same aisle as all the other bagged rice. If you can’t find it locally, here is a link to purchase it online.
Cooking with Leeks
Leeks are another ingredient in this recipe you may not be familiar with. They look like giant green onions. In fact, they are part of the same family. Leeks don’t have quite as strong an onion flavor as green onions. They also hold up better to longer cooking times.
Two important things to remember when cooking with leeks. First, only use the white and light green part of the plant. Obviously, you want to cut off the tip with the roots. Now look closely up the stalk and you’ll see where the stalk goes from white, to light green and then starts breaking off into dark green leaves. Cut right before the stem breaks off into the leaves. The dark green parts are too tough to eat. But they do make good seasoning for chicken stock!
Second, be sure to wash your leeks thoroughly. As you start cutting your white and light green parts into rings you’ll notice sand and grit embedded in between the layers. You want to rinse all that stuff out before your add it to the dish.
Easy Mushroom Risotto with Pumpkin and Chorizo
Start by cooking your chorizo in a large skillet over medium heat. Chorizo has a lot of fat in it, so you’ll notice this starting to melt out into the pan as the chorizo cooks. After about five minutes, add you cleaned and chopped leeks and mushrooms.
I used cremini mushrooms for their more meaty texture and flavor. Sometimes they are also called “baby bella” mushrooms. White button mushrooms can be substituted here. Saute the mushrooms and leeks until they are tender and the sausage is completely cooked through. Add some minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
Now we’re going to add our Arborio to the pan. Stir it around to get it coated with the grease from the sausage. Next, add one cup of chicken broth. If there is anything stuck to the bottom of the pan, use a wooden spoon to scrap all this up.
Next add pumpkin puree. Make sure you are using plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling has sugar and other spices added to it for use in dessert recipes. Not a good flavor combo for this dish!
Stir until the chicken broth and pumpkin are mixed together. You may want to reduce the heat here a little until the pan reaches a simmer. Then keep stirring until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add a second cup of chicken broth and continue the process.
After that liquid is absorbed, add a cup of dry white wine. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Gris are all good choices here. Try to pick something you’ll drink, since you only need a cup. If you’re not a wine drinker, consider buying a small bottle of vermouth. Once opened, vermouth will keep in the fridge for up to three months, meaning you could find other dishes that call for wine you could use it in. White wine will only last a few days once opened. You can also eliminate alcohol completely from this dish and go with another cup of chicken broth.
I like to add one tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme at this point. If you don’t have access to fresh, 1/2 tablespoon of dried (not ground) will also work. Again, keep stirring until the liquid is absorbed. By now, the rice should be tender and have a creamy consistency.
I was very much looking forward to getting Little Tot to bed the night I made this so I could start sautéing chorizo, chopping leeks, and stirring rice. The pumpkin and the mushrooms were very meaty, earthy, and went together perfectly. Right before serving, I sprinkled it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Easy mushroom risotto with pumpkin and chorizo the perfect fall comfort food – creamy and complex, especially when enjoyed in a moment of silence.
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Easy Mushroom Risotto with Pumpkin and Chorizo
- 9 ounces chorizo sausage
- 1 leek white and light green parts only, halved, then diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms washed and sliced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a lightly greased large sauté pan or skillet with high sides over medium heat. Add chorizo and sauté until it begins to render some of its fat, about five minutes.
- Add leeks and mushrooms. Saute for an additional five minutes or until leeks become tender and chorizo is completely cooked.
- Add garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.
- Add the rice to the pan. Stir rice until completely coated.
- Add one cup of the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Bring mixture to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until all liquid is absorbed. Add the second cup of chicken broth and continue cooking as above. Add the white wine and thyme and again, continue cooking as above. Total cooking time will be around 30-45 minutes and by now, rice should be creamy and tender.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper as desired.