As you know from my recent post, Fantastic Fungi, I really love good mushrooms.
Of all the varieties out there, fresh porcini mushrooms are probably my number one favorite. While I use them, dried porcini just don’t have the same flavor.
As you can imagine, they are not plentiful in the desert. In fact, it is hard to get anyone to ship them to me, as they are incredibly fragile.
One of our local markets will occasionally carry fresh exotic mushrooms that come from the Pacific Northwest.
Chanterelles, morels, and porcini are the three I watch for.
Recently, I was at that store for a really quick errand - probably milk for my morning cocoa. I walked in, and was passing through the produce section, when I saw little round-ish boxes of mushrooms, which is not how they usually sell them.
Could it be? After all, it is autumn and autumn is the season for good mushrooms...
I walked up to the display and was so happy to find boxes of beautiful, plump boletus edulis... fresh porcini mushrooms, for the price of small house. Actually, the price wasn't too exorbitant, so I bought 4 ounces.
And this is what I made...
Fresh Porcini Mushroom Risotto
4 cups light meat broth •
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces fresh porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon chopped nepitella •• or flat leaf parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce heat and keep at a simmer on the back of the stove.
Melt the butter together with the olive oil in a large kettle over medium-high heat. Sauté the porcini until they have taken on color and are golden at the edges. Reserve 2 slices for garnish (4 slices, if serving as a primo course).
Add the rice and sauté a minute or so longer until it is opaque. Add the wine and stir, continuing to cook until the spoon leaves a trail on the bottom of the pan.
Then, one ladleful at a time, add the simmering broth. Continue to stir after each ladleful until the spoon leaves a trail in the pot, and before adding the next ladleful of broth. Continue adding broth in this manner, stirring constantly, until all the broth is used up.
Add the nepitella (or parsley) and stir well. Don't let the risotto get too thick. It will thicken considerably as it comes to serving temperature at the table. You want it al ondine (literally, "to the wave").
Divide among serving bowls and top with grated cheese and the reserved porcini slices.
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a first course.
• Canned beef broth is too strong for this risotto, so consider using a very light chicken broth flavored with a little beef bouillon, or a 1/2 teaspoon of beef bouillon paste.
• Nepitella, also know as calamint or cat mint (not catnip!), is an herb that grows in Tuscany and is used with porcini mushrooms. Its leaves have a light floral fragrance. We learned this in Tuscany, and then learned in Rome that if nepitella isn't available, we should just use parsley.