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porcini mushroom risotto

September 12, 2010

I’ve been on the hunt for a good Italian deli, like Bay Cities in Santa Monica or Presti’s in Cleveland.  So far we haven’t found anywhere in the Twin Cities to get pepperoni bread, a meatball sandwich, or even just a mean cold cuts sub.  Based on reviews I read online, I thought Delmonico’s might be the answer.  Alas, not so.  They don’t sell that kind of prepared food.  But in Delmonico’s I did find a pretty awesome, although impossibly small Italian market, full of spices, cheeses, fresh and dried pastas, olive oils, sausages, and…..dried porcini mushrooms.

I’ve never cooked with dried mushrooms of any sort before.  For some reason they have always seemed really intimidating to me.  But I bought a bag anyway, along with spinach pasta, spumoni, and a chunk of parmesan cheese (of course).

So, dried porcini are not intimidating at all.  They are super easy and super delicious.  All you have to do is soak them in hot water and then cut off any hard bits.  I’m not sure if drying porcini intensifies their flavor or not (I can’t recall having fresh ones) but these were bold and earthy, the perfect addition to risotto.

porcini mushroom risotto

adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”

ingredients

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms

about 1 1/2 cups hot water

about 5 cups chicken broth/stock

4 tablespoons butter (two of these tablespoons should be softened)

3-4 green onions minced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish

fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

salt and pepper to taste

directions

Put the mushrooms in a small bowl with the hot water and let them soak.  Heat up the chicken stock in a saucepan on medium heat and leave it (you want the broth to be hot when you add it to the risotto). Once the mushrooms are soft, drain the water (but save it) and pat them dry.  Cut off any hard spots and roughly chop what’s left over.

Now, start the risotto by adding 2 tablespoons of the butter to a large saucepan over medium heat.  When it has melted and heated up, add the onions and cook until they start to smell really good and they become slightly translucent.  Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, although don’t let them brown.  Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the butter/onion/mushroom mixture. Season a little with salt and pepper, then add the wine. Cook until the wine soaks in, stirring continually.

Keep stirring, adding the mushroom liquid and then the stock about 1/2 cup at  time when the previous addition of liquid gets soaked up.  Do this until the broth is used up or until the rice is cooked with only the slightest bit of crunch. When it’s ready turn off heat and stir in the remaining butter and the 1/2 cup of parmesan.  Serve immediately and garnish with more parmesan and fresh parsley.

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