Serves 2 | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes
Mushroom risotto is a staple vegetarian dinner dish for good reason - it's filling, flavoursome and an all-round crowd pleaser. In a hurry? Jump straight to the recipe.
Risotto was actually the first meal I learnt to cook on moving out of home. My dad made it regularly while I was growing up and passed his recipe on when I moved to London and realised I had no idea how to cook proper food for myself. Over time my cooking repertoire expanded, but what kept me coming back to risotto was how varied it was - you can adapt a basic risotto recipe to include whatever vegetables and herbs you've got to hand. Of course, some combinations work better than others. My personal favourites include:
- Tomato, basil and feta,
- Pumpkin, feta and sage
- Pea, zuchini and mint
A traditional risotto
For those unfamiliar with it, a traditional mushroom risotto is made by simmering risotto rice for 20 minutes or so, while stirring and gradually adding hot stock to the dish. The rice releases starches while cooking, giving the dish its creamy consistency. The risotto is finished off by stirring parmesan cheese and cold butter through it.
In this mushroom risotto recipe we've made a few tweaks to get it just right for camping. In particular:
- Dried mushrooms - We've used dried mushrooms as opposed to fresh, to help keep our packs light and prevent having to carry as much perishable food.
- Use a mug to decant your stock - Risotto is typically a two pot dish. We've adapted it for one pot by adding in stock from a mug as opposed to another pot.
- Be flexible with your ingredients based on your location - Traditionally risotto recipes include wine and butter. Depending on where you're camping, you may not have these available. We've suggested a few work arounds .
The full mushroom risotto camping recipe is below.
Gear you'll need
Camping stove - we used a Jetboil MiniMo, but any camping or backpacking stove with a capacity of 1L or more and the ability to adjust the temperature down to a simmer is fine.
Cup - with at least 400ml capacity and preferably well insulated. We a Sea to Summit Delta Insulated Mug.
Spoon - to stir the risotto with. We used a spork from Light My Fire. As it's plastic, it doesn't scratch the non-stick coating on the Jetboil.
Bowl or plate - to eat from. We used an enamel bowl.
Knife & chopping board - to prep the onion and garlic. Our tip - if you're not traveling far, cut it at home and carry it in a ziplock bag so you don't need to cart a knife around with you.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
120g arborio rice (or another type of risotto rice, like carnaroli or vialone nano)
80ml wine (1/3 cup or 3 fl oz) (optional) - red or white, whatever your preference
400ml stock (1 2/3 cups or 13.5 fl oz) - if not using wine, use 500ml stock (2 cups or 17 fl oz)
16g dried mushrooms
1 tbsp dried parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tbsp butter - if you're away from a cooler, use powdered butter or 1/2 tbsp olive oil instead
What to do
- Boil water to prepare your stock. Once boiled, prepare stock in accordance with directions and pour into a mug or secondary container.
- Add vegetable oil to Jetboil, along with onion and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes on a low heat until translucent but not coloured.
- Add rice and stir for a minute to coat with the oil, onion and garlic mixture.
- Add wine, if using. Stir the rice in a circular motion until wine is close to absorbed. The risotto should be lightly simmering as opposed to boiling.
- Start adding your stock, 1/4 at a time, stirring continuously. Add your next batch of stock just before the current one is totally absorbed - not allowing the stock to completely absorb will help prevent the risotto sticking to the stove, which happens more easily when the pan is dry. Give the base and corners a good stir as you go to help prevent the risotto sticking.
- When you've used 3/4 of your stock, add your mushrooms.
- Once all the stock is in and close to absorbed (around 20 - 25 minutes later), turn off the heat. Stir through the butter (or olive oil), along with the parmesan cheese and parsley flakes. Cover and leave for a minute to allow the cheese to melt into the dish.
- Serve immediately.
A few parting thoughts
Cooking a dish that requires gradual simmering, like risotto, uses quite a bit of fuel. When cooking this recipe, we used an average of 38 grams of fuel each time - that's over a third of a standard 100 gram Jetboil fuel canister. No one wants to be eating half-cooked rice, so do make sure you've got enough fuel before you start cooking this one.
If you're backpacking for multiple days and are trying to conserve fuel, consider cooking your risotto in advance at home and dehydrating it - that way you can just add water to it to bring it back to life, cutting the gas you'd use from 38 grams to less than 5 grams.