Wild Mushroom and Marsala Risotto with thyme and mascarpone


An oozing, Autumnal, deep, rich, silky and moorish risotto. This can be, and I assure you- will be, eaten with nothing but a trusty fork, eyes closed with a satisfied smile on your face. As the last rays of sunshine tiptoe off back to Australia leaving behind a dark gallery of evenings and a steady chilly drizzle….not to worry, this will solve any post summer blues, I promise. Because, honestly, who doesn’t love cheesey buttery and smooth warming dinners (unless of course you don’t like mushrooms)…

Risotto is the most relaxing way to spend a evening in the kitchen, unwinding with a glass of iced white, music and some mindless stirring with a wooden spoon….bliss. [See my tips for risotto making] (Serves 4)

Risotto Base

  • 300g risotto rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • Bunch thyme, leaves picked
  • 150ml Marsala wine (or white wine)
  • Vegetable stock- About 1 ½ pints
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Flat-leaf parsley to serve, chopped
  • Mascarpone, to serve
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil


  • 500g mixed mushrooms- I used chesnut and button, sliced
  • Handful of dried wild mushrooms, soaked in 200ml boiling water for 20 minutes
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Handful of parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and roast the garlic bulb whole, drizzled with a bit of oil for 30 minutes. Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water.
  2. Now begin with the risotto base by heating a tbsp of olive oil and a knob of butter in a large frying pan on a medium-low heat and soften the onion, celery and thyme leaves until translucent but not coloured. Seasonimage
  3. While this is softening, heat 1 tbsp of oil and a knob of butter in another frying pan and saute the raw mushrooms to release and evapourate the juices (about 8-10 minutes) and to brown them. Don’t be tempted to crowd the pan, so do this in batches if necessary. After about 10 minutes, add the garlic and the parsley and cook for a few minutes. image
  4. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid and chop the soaked dried mushrooms and add them to the frying ones. Then set aside this mixture.
  5. Using forks, remove the (should be) softened, sweetened garlic and crush to a thick garlicky paste in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt.image
  6. Back to the risotto, add the rice to the softened veg and toast on a medium heat until translucent and hot to touch. Add the Marsala wine (or white wine) and simmer gently. Now add a ladle of hot stock to the mixture, and on a low heat, simmer gently until it is all absorbed. Continue adding ladles of stock, making sure it does not dry out but is also not swamped. The rice should expand as it absorbs the liquid and this process should take about 18-20 minutes. Keep adding stock until the rice is cooked, with a slight bite and the texture is oozy. Now add the garlic paste and mix in.image
  7. Now, the rice should be cooked. Stir in the reserved mushrooms.image
  8. Take the pan off the heat, add a squeeze of lemon juice, the parmesan and scatter with the cubed butter (you can add as much butter as you like, the more you add the shinier and creamier it will taste- restaurants are known to use up to 200g to get that decadent texture and taste). Cover with a lid and leave for 2 minutes off the heat. image
  9. After this time, mix gently to mix in the melted additions and add a touch of reserved mushroom stock if to thick. It should ‘ooze’ and be served in a shallow soup bowl- not dry and stiff on the plate.
  10. Serve topped with chopped parsley, a spoonful of cool, creamy mascarpone and drizzle with truffle/olive oil if you want!


WINE: The depth and richness of this dish is robust enough to stand up to something regional from Italy. Here I’m thinking a hearty red from Valpolicella, Italy. While you could in fact use a splash in your risotto or make a devine Veronese Risotto as a replacement of the Marsala, better still enough a glass of Amarone della Valpolicella such as the 2010 Musella available at Armit Wines.

Jess - Musella