Eating a great risotto is one of my favorite dining experiences. For some masochistic reason, I will often order risotto at a restaurant to determine if the chef has enough trained staff in the kitchen willing to carefully add broth at the right time to the arborio rice. Cooking a credible risotto takes about 20 minutes of concentration and attention to detail. I am generally underwhelmed by the outcome, but still persist in my hope that a divine risotto will appear at one of my favorite restaurants.
Frankly, it is far easier to prepare risotto at home. The recipe we use comes from Marcella Hazan’s Essential Classic Italian Cookbook for Risotto with Porcini mushrooms.
Marcella argues that dehydrated porcini mushrooms pack more flavor punch than fresh porcini mushrooms. I agree! While there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh porcini mushrooms in Italy, the season is short and why confine yourself to one month out of the year to eat porcini?
The secret to Marcella’s risotto is that we use the liquid that we hydrated the mushrooms to add flavor to the broth that we use to cook the Arborio rice. Enjoy this great recipe from Marcella and do use Gourmet Living’s premium grade porcini mushrooms when doing so. The flavor and texture of premium porcini mushrooms makes a huge difference in both the taste and presentation.
Marcella Hazan's Risotto with Funghi Porcini
Yield 6 servings
Leaving aside the traditional risotto Milanese, risotto with funghi porcini is my favorite. The exquisite flavor of the porcini mushroom makes for a memorable meal.
- 1 ounce imported dried porcini mushrooms (preferably from Gourmet Living)
- 1 quart of homemade meat broth or 1 cup of canned chicken broth mixed with 3 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons fine chopped shallots or yellow onion
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups raw Italian Arborio rice
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt, if necessary
- Freshly grated pepper, about 4 twists of the mill
- Soak the mushrooms in 2 cups of lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes before cooking. After the liquid turns very dark, stain it through a sieve lined with paper towels and set aside. Continue soaking and rinsing the mushrooms in frequent changes of water until the mushrooms are soft and thoroughly free of soil.
- Bring the broth or the canned broth and water to a slow, steady simmer.
- In a heavy-bottomed casserole, over medium-high heat, sauté the chopped shallots or onion in half the butter and all the oil until translucent but not brown. Add the rice and stir until is is well coated. Sauté lightly for a few moments and then add a ladleful, 1/2 cup, of the simmering broth. Continue adding a ladleful of the simmering broth after the liquid is fully absorbed into the rice. Stir frequently to avoid having the risotto stick. When the rice has cooked for 10 to 12 minutes add the mushrooms and 1/2 cup of the strained mushroom liquid, 1/2 cup at a time. After you've used up the mushroom liquid finish cooking the rice with hot broth. (If you run out of broth, add water).
- When the rice is done, turn off the heat and mix in the grated Parmesan and the rest of the butter. Taste and correct for salt. Add a few twists of pepper and mix. Spoon the rice into a hot serving platter and serve immediately with a bowl of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side.