baked wild mushroom risotto

baked wild mushroom risotto |

I smelled like a fajita combo.

There I was, standing amongst 15 other parents waiting for our kids outside the classroom. Everything was fine at first. In fact, I was initially worried about my black eye from the day before (a radio fell on my face while trying to grab it out of the closet!). I was pretty sure people would be staring at my pathetic cover-up job. But then there was this smell… a distinctive fajita smell. Was it me?

Sadly, yes.

Earlier that morning I was prepping onions for this risotto. Chop. Sauté. Repeat. The scent wafted into my new polka dot puffy vest and stayed there. I was ripe.

baked wild mushroom risotto |

It reminds me of the time, years ago, when my grandpa made his favorite recession specialty: tripe. Call me picky but I’ve never been a fan of cow stomach. He would simmer it in tomato sauce and taunt anyone who walked by with a wooden spoonful. He couldn’t fool us. We knew it wasn’t meat sauce! Tripe is so funky is smells exactly how you’d imagine... Anyway, I took on the stench of this edible offal and at school the next day my jacket smelled rank. Like, seriously rank.

No wonder I sat alone on the bus…

baked wild mushroom risotto |

The Risotto

Traditional risotto with all the stirring (and sweating) is too hectic for me on weeknights. This baked version is easy and mostly hands-off.

To begin, sauté one yellow onion with thyme and aborio rice. Add a splash of white wine and chicken stock- I used homemade stock leftover from this recipe. I also threw in a handful of dried porcini mushrooms for flavor. You can usually find them in little packets at the grocery store or at Italian delis. They must be reconstituted in hot water first. Bring to a quick boil and then bake for about 45 minutes.

The Topping

Oyster, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms are sauteed until golden and used to top each portion of risotto. What makes it special is the addition of brandy used to deglaze the pan. When I buy the wine, I pick up one of those mini bottles of brandy they usually have behind the counter. This way you don’t have to commit to a big one.

baked wild mushroom risotto | theclevercarrot.combaked wild mushroom risotto |

There is nothing remotely fajita-like about this dish.

It’s the aromatic smell of onions, thyme, and earthy mushrooms that elevate the senses. Baked risotto is a convenient alternative to its traditional counterpart yielding a creamy, comforting meal without the hassle. Plus, it’s very healthful considering there is minimal butter and no cream.

You just might want to change your clothes before leaving the house. Olé!


  • Wild mushrooms can get pricey. Check out your local store for variety packs, which will usually include 2-3 different types. That’s what I buy and it saves me a couple of bucks.
  • The best way to store mushrooms is in a brown paper bag. If they are packaged in plastic, they tend to spoil at a faster rate. 
  • When deglazing with alcohol, first turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Then add the brandy. This will prevent the alcohol from flaming up. Be careful!
baked wild mushroom risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 small handful of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1½ c. aborio rice
  • ⅓ c. dry white wine
  • 5 c. chicken stock, divided + more to taste
  • ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1tsp. olive oil
  • 10 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. wild mushrooms- shiitake, oyster or a mix, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp. of brandy
  • parmesan cheese
  • thyme sprigs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Place the porcini mushrooms into a small bowl. Add just enough hot water to cover, about ½ c. Soak for 10-15 minutes to reconstitute. Strain the mushrooms to remove any sand and reserve the liquid.
  3. In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over low heat.
  4. Add the onion and thyme leaves. Saute until soft but not colored, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir thoroughly.
  6. Pour in the wine and reserved porcini liquid. Cook until the most of the moisture has evaporated.
  7. Add 4½ cups of chicken stock.
  8. Cover and place into the center of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove the risotto from the oven. Add the remaining ½ cup of chicken stock, parmesan cheese, and stir frequently for about 1-2 minutes. The texture should be oozy, not stiff. Add extra stock if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. For the topping, warm the butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms in batches until golden (overcrowding the pan will cause them to steam and get watery). To deglaze, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Then add the brandy. This will prevent the alcohol from catching flame. Return the pan back to the stove and continue to cook, with the mushrooms, until the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. To serve, portion the risotto into bowls. Top with mushrooms, thyme sprigs and extra parmesan on the side.

**PS- Don’t forget to enter the MightyNest Giveaway (entry box below) for a chance to win a set of baking goodies, including my favorite new bundt pan and CakeBox (love). More details here.

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    • Emilie says

      I know! The last time I did risotto at 5 o’clock I caught the kids trying to give the cat a haircut. Not even joking. That’s when I said, NO MORE! I love this baked version, mushrooms or plain and use it every time. But tripe? I don’t care if I ever see that again!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Barbara! It was pouring rain and freezing cold the day I made this. Dark…gloomy… a typical fall afternoon. Perfect comfort food weather. I totally get what you’re saying ;)

  1. says

    i always notice when i come back home after being out of my house for an afternoon or something that it smells like an asian market and a hippie dip bulk goods store had a baby. it makes me wonder if i carry this smell everywhere i go, too. also, probably TMI, but my armpits always smell like goodass indian curry. i wonder if people think i just cook curry all the time or if they can see (smell?) the true source of the stink.

    • Emilie says

      LOL. I’m dying… Laugh out loud, coffee dribbling down my chin, almost teary eyed dying!! Too funny. And never TMI if you ask me. Curry is a good thing ;)

    • Emilie says

      You know I love a good shortcut! Baked risotto is very flexible too- the base is always the same (minus the porcini) and you can prepare a specific topping to your liking. I’ve made it so many times and it’s very reliable. xx

    • Emilie says

      Me too! Plus, if I’m using one of those cutting boards that can’t go into the dishwasher, I can never get the smell out no matter how hard I scrub. I cut strawberries once that ended up tasting like garlic. Go figure.

    • Emilie says

      Aubrie, this recipe is for you! The only stirring required is the initial onion & rice saute and that’s it. The rest of the work is done in the oven. A true purist could probably spot the difference when compared however, in my opinion, the end result is rival to any good creamy risotto. Enjoy!

  2. says

    Love your method here, Emilie! Thank you for showing me how to not stir, and stir and stir… !! The addition of porcini thyme makes this recipe even more mouthwatering. Stunning photography too… if you brought this on the bus, you wouldn’t be setting alone!! Thank you for your recipe!

    • Emilie says

      You are quite welcome Traci! Porcini and thyme is one of my favorite combo’s as well. It’s so earthy and wonderfully fragrant. One of my culinary dreams is to get my hands on a fresh porcini mushroom (I’ve only seen them on TV). I hope you like the recipe! Enjoy :)

  3. says

    I love the lighting in all your photos, it is gorgeous! I hate it when I smell like food! I love the actual smell of it when I’m cooking it, but I don’t like smelling like it when I go out! This risotto sounds and looks so good!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Isadora! Thank you! Smelling like food can get very comical, that’s for sure. I mean, it’s one thing smelling like cinnamon-spiked pumpkin bread vs. onions! Or tripe ;) Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking!

  4. says

    Haha!! This is too funny — it reminds me of reeking of shabu shabu for days afterward (that darn winter coat!) But this risotto looks so amazing and totally worth the onion perfume :) so genius that it’s baked! It sounds delicious. I can’t wait to try it.

    • Emilie says

      That’s the other thing- the winter coat(s)!!! I will admit, I do not race to get them cleaned once the warm weather rolls in. I throw them in a bin somewhere to marinate in their own stink- lol. It’s only until the following season that I’m reminded of winter’s past (and shabu shabu in your case- ps- I had to goole that by the way…). At least I’m not alone! Thanks Cynthia!

  5. says

    Again, you make me want to try mushrooms. Yikes! what is happening to me?!!!
    And, I smell like food ALL the time. I think I get forgiven because I’m Indian. Indians always smell like a deli!!!
    Love the post Emilie, beautiful pictures…

    • Emilie says

      Oh yes… that’s an interesting one too. I used to work in a restaurant kitchen and one of my jobs was to fry potato chips. Like, a million of them. You want to know what I stunk like? And I had to take the subway home with strangers!

  6. says

    I had to laugh about smelling like onions – smelling like food is one of the worst feelings ever! I used to work at a deep dish pizza place in high school, and my clothes and hair would always smell like pizza when I got home. I guess we’ve all been there, haven’t we! Mushroom risotto is one of my favorite dishes, and I love how you used brandy in your recipe. What a wonderful idea! I can’t wait to try this.

    • Emilie says

      I wouldn’t mind smelling like pizza! I live for red sauce ;) But I totally get what you’re saying… About the risotto, if you like mushrooms the addition of brandy is such a yummy match. I got the idea from stroganoff. It just makes this dish a little extra special. I hope you like it! Thanks Julia!

    • Emilie says

      Thanks Nik! Baked risotto is a fabulous shortcut. Once you have the basic method down you are free to switch it up however you please!

    • Emilie says

      Thank you Kristie! I find myself making this more and more during the week now. It’s super easy and the oven does all of the work! If only I could get someone to do my dishes… ;)

  7. says

    Oh that’s too funny the fajita aroma in tandem with the black eye… quite the combo mom! Do you know, the same thing happened to me years ago reaching overhead for the keyboard for my son – the darn thing landed right on the corner of my eye and I had a lovely cut and bruise for weeks…mortifying in the moment but all part of the stuff that makes us human (plus, it gives us stories to tell ;-) ). Gorgeous risotto Emilie – a warm and inviting autumnal dish and those mushrooms are literally glistening on the surface. I hope you’re keeping your pinterest board up to date — I will visit and pin away… xx

    • Emilie says

      Oh no! You see? We shouldn’t store stuff high up! I do that with all the things I don’t want the boys to find and then look what happens…

      As soon as you mentioned Pinterest, I actually went over and started looking at my boards- thanks for the kick in the butt! I prefer just pinning all your finds lol.

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