Risotto ai Funghi Porcini

We brought a few of those porcini back with us in our suitcase, dried of course, but oh so delicious. There isn’t a whole lot that you can do with dried porcini, but they make a heavenly risotto, which is exactly what we have been doing with them. I’ve been so happy to be able to revisit them from time to time after our porcini feasts in September.

Italians are brilliant at conserving the good stuff for a season when it is not so plentiful. Drying mushrooms, curing meats, pickling and canning vegetables. The families that I lived with in Lucania would hang clusters of cherry tomatoes in the basement, which shriveled them, but didn’t dry them out. Those tomatoes made the best pane pomodoro.

I first learned to eat mushrooms in risotto, this also dating back to my year in Lucania. My host father would spend his days off at the sea fishing, or in the woods hunting for mushrooms, two of his greatest passions. I learned to eat a number of things that year, trying to avoid offending my hosts with my picky palate, mushrooms and fish being two of the things that I had previously turned my nose up at. Risotto helped me learn to appreciate the earthy flavors of mushrooms, which led me to accept and then embrace their texture.

Dried Porcini Mushroom Risotto

  • 1 cup of carnaroli or Arborio rice (Italians measure rice by demitasse cups, 1 cup for each person and one for the pot)
  • ½ an onion, chopped finely
  • 1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms (you can find these at most gourmet stores, some grocery stores as well)
  • 5 cups warm water for soaking dried porcini
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • salt to taste

Heat the water for the dried porcini in a pot, you want to be able to continue to simmer the broth that the porcinis will create as you are making the risotto. Soak the dried porcinis in the warm for at least 30 minutes for them to hydrate.

When the porcinis are hydrated, removed them from the broth with a slotted spoon and roughly chop.

Chop onion into fine pieces and bring the porcini broth to a simmer.

Heat a large stovetop casserole pan over medium-high heat and melt butter at the bottom of the pan, covering the pan. When the butter is melted add onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add rice and coat it in the butter, toasting it a bit. When the rice becomes opaque, after about 1 minute add a cup of wine to the pan, enough to cover the rice, stir frequently.

When the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladleful of broth to the pan and continue stirring. Repeat and once the rice starts to absorb the broth add the porcini mushrooms. Continue adding the broth as the rice absorbs it, you want it to almost dry out before adding the broth each time.

When the rice is finished it should be al dente and all of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from heat and toss chopped parsley in. Serve immediately.

*Italians would never add grated cheese to mushrooms, they hold the same rule as fish, though I think probably less offensive if you want to add cheese to this risotto. The idea is to not overpower the delicate flavors of the mushrooms.

One Year Ago: Penne alla Boscaiola

Two Years Ago: Calamarata with Octopus Heads and Clams, Ligurian Shop Windows & Puntarelle

~ by italicious on December 16, 2010.

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