How Wolfgang Puck gave me the confidence to master a risotto recipe

Mushroom risotto based on Chef Wolfgang Puck recipe , photo by Cristine Struble
Mushroom risotto based on Chef Wolfgang Puck recipe , photo by Cristine Struble /

As many people are devouring the Wolfgang documentary on Disney+, the David Gelb documentary is more than stunning visuals on a plate. While the story of the resilient man is just as important as Wolfgang Puck and his rise to celebrity chef stardom, the reality is that Puck would not be that culinary legend if it was not for his food vision or his delicious dishes like this mushroom risotto recipe.

Whether it is his sense of innovation in times of need (i.e., smoked salmon on a pizza when the brioche was gone) to discovering that a slightly under-baked cake can become that infamous molten chocolate cake, the reality is that food is Puck’s medium where he creates. But, those ingredients are the key to the whole process.

As seen in the Wolfgang documentary, using fresh, local ingredients has become his trademark. While the concept might not be a new one, Puck is the chef who put the idea en vogue. Call it California cuisine, farm to table or another label, the reality is that fresh ingredients, cooking with care and putting passion on the plate always tastes better.

Learning a risotto recipe with Wolfgang Puck.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a cooking demo with Wolfgang Puck and David Gelb. While watching Chef Puck on a screen can make any foodie gush, the idea of cooking his infamous mushroom risotto recipe came with a little feeling of trepidation. Luckily, the pair made everyone feel at ease.

From Chef Puck’s welcoming personality to his simple cooking tips to his heartwarming stories, the time flew. Instead of risotto being that intimidating dish that seems to foil every chef on culinary competitions, it was an afternoon in the kitchen to remember.

While every risotto recipe has some similarities and some differences, Chef Puck’s recipe has one ingredient that has changed my approach to risotto. Putting side using the hot stock, slowly incorporating the liquid and tasting throughout the cooking process, the key to a luscious, creamy risotto is the mushroom puree.

In this recipe, Chef Puck takes a portion of the sauteed mushrooms and purees them. When the risotto is almost finished, the pureed mushrooms are added to the risotto. The result is the creaminess, best bite ever. Sure, there is extra Parmesan and sauteed mushrooms on top. But, that mushroom puree has become not only my favorite cooking tip, and it makes me feel less intimidated to make risotto.

Whether you serve a plate of risotto while watching the Wolfgang documentary on Disney+, enjoy this dish as a special meal with the family, or create it for a romantic dinner, the biggest takeaway from this experience should be that cooking is not intimidating. More importantly, putting joy into the food and the experience will always be the best seasoning to any dish.

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What recipe have you always wanted to master? Is there a cooking technique or cooking hack that you would like to share with FoodSided?