If using dried mushrooms (recommended) soak in 2 cups warm water for at least 30 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. Remove from the water chop coarsely using a food processor
. Strain the water through a paper towel and combine it with the 2 cups of chicken stock in a saucepan. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium heat. If using fresh mushrooms, chop coarsely and set aside, and bring 4 cups of chicken stock to a simmer.
In a heavy 2 qt. (2 L) pot over medium heat saute the shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil until translucent but not brown. Add the rice, stir to thoroughly coat with the oil and butter, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine or 1/2 cup of the simmering stock, stirring frequently. When the liquid is almost completely absorbed add another 1/2 cup stock, and repeat this process for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms and continue adding stock as it becomes absorbed for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the rice is done. You may have some stock left over; do not feel compelled to use it all, as this will make the risotto too runny. Test the rice for doneness by tasting it; it should be "al dente" (soft but still firm to the tooth) and the risotto should be creamy at this stage. When the rice is cooked remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. *
Arborio rice really is the secret to this dish, and is available in finer supermarkets and specialty shops. Long-grained rice may be used, but the results will be inferior.