Mushroom Risotto

The dried mushrooms add a distinctive depth of flavor, especially because the water they are steeped in is added to the chicken broth. Be sure to strain the mushroom broth well as dried mushrooms can be gritty.

2 cups water
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup fresh mixed mushrooms, chopped (shiitake, oyster, portobello, etc.)
4 TBS olive oil, divided
3 TBS butter
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 – 5 cups chicken broth (plus porcini mushroom broth)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 – 2 TBS heavy cream, optional
1 TBS fresh basil, minced
2 scallions, chopped

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat, add dried mushrooms and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving mushroom broth. Chop mushrooms and set aside. Pour mushroom broth into a separate bowl and set aside.

In a small skillet, sauté fresh mushrooms in 1 TBS oil over medium heat until cooked through. Set aside.

In medium saucepot, stir chicken broth and reserved mushroom broth together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep broth at a simmer while making the risotto.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté onion and garlic in hot butter and 3 TBS oil until softened. Add rice, stir, and cook about 1 minute or until rice is translucent.

Add wine, stirring constantly until absorbed.

Add hot broth, one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding another ladleful. Start tasting rice at about 20 minutes. It may take up to 30 minutes until it is the texture you prefer. You may not use all of the broth.

Add reserved sautéed mushrooms, salt, pepper and heavy cream if using. Gently heat through. Divide among four shallow bowls. Garnish with basil and scallions. Pass Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serves 6

Gary – The richness of the mushrooms calls for a full-bodied wine with earthiness and/or minerality. For whites, Chardonnay (unoaked or lightly-oaked), Viognier, Southern Italian whites (Greco, Fiano), Rhône Marsanne/Roussane, Albariño, Verdejo, Gewürztraminer and other similar grapes would fit the bill and still bring out the basil’s notes without going to an herbal-scented varietal.

For reds, look for softer wines with earthy notes, such as Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Bonarda, Syrah, Primitivo, Aglianico and Nero d’Avola. Remember that soft and supple examples of each of these red grape varieties would probably make the best food match.

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