Risotto with Wild Mushrooms
Serves 4 to 6
One variety of mushroom suffices for this recipe, but a mixture gives the risotto special texture, flavor, and color. The green element, herbal or vegetable, is not strictly necessary and can be omitted if you like.
For an Italian-style risotto—al dente rice and creamy liquid—diligent stirring is necessary. Stiff and dry is not considered risotto in Italy. You don’t have to stand over the pot and stir every moment, however; every two or three minutes will give good results.
1 ounce dried porcini or morels
2 or 3 ounces fresh porcini
2 or 3 ounces fresh chanterelles
2 or 3 ounces fresh morels
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil, or a mixture
1 small onion, diced
2 cups arborio rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup cooked fresh shell peas, optional
6 to 8 asparagus spears, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, optional
2 artichoke bottoms, trimmed, sliced, and sauteéd, optional
6 or 8 Italian parsley sprigs, leaves chopped, optional
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
White wine, optional
1. Add dried mushrooms to 6 cups boiling water, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain liquid into a clean pan and keep it just below a simmer. Chop mushrooms and reserve.
2. Meanwhile, clean fresh mushrooms and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add butter and/or oil to a casserole large enough to hold 4 quarts, and place over medium heat. Add onion and stir well. When onion begins to color, about 5 minutes, add the fresh and reconstituted mushrooms and increase heat to medium high. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until mushrooms have absorbed their juices.
3. Stir in arborio rice and heat through, coating each grain with fat, about 5 minutes. Add just enough hot mushroom liquid to barely cover the rice. Stir risotto frequently, adding more liquid to cover, as necessary.
4. When the rice has softened but still has some crunch, salt risotto to taste. When rice is almost al dente, about 15 to 18 minutes, add any remaining optional ingredients and stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
5. The risotto should be creamy and a little fluid. If necessary, add any remaining mushroom liquid or a little white wine and let stand for a minute. Serve risotto hot and pass the remaining Parmesan cheese.
For more wild mushroom recipes and to learn more about mushrooms, read the original article, "A Feast of Wild Mushrooms."