Serves: 4 Time: 90 minutes Hands-on: 25 minutes
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1.5 cups hot water
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium leek or yellow onion, chopped (rinse leek after chopping to get rid of any grit)
1 cup short-grain brown rice
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh (or you can skip it if you don’t have any)
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups chicken or mushroom broth
6 ounces cremini, baby bella, button, or other yummy fresh mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, plus sprigs for garnish, optional
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper
In a medium (4 cup) bowl, combine the porcinis with the hot water. Set aside for 30 minutes, then drain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Save the mushroom liquid (that’s where all the flavor is!) and chop the mushrooms fairly finely.
Preheat oven to 425.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in an oven-proof deep saute pan or soup pot with lid. Add leek or onion and porcinis; cook until the onion or leek is tender, 5 minutes or so. Add rice, garlic, and thyme (if using), and stir until the rice is glossy with oil. Add wine and cook until most of it evaporates, 2 minutes or so. Add broth and porcini liquid, bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the rice is tender with a little resistance to the tooth. If the risotto is soupy but the rice seems tender enough, put it on the stove at medium heat and cook, stirring, a few minutes or until the liquid evaporates.
While the risotto bakes, slice or quarter the fresh mushrooms, depending on how you like them. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil (and a sliver of butter, if you’re tempted) in a medium skillet. Add the mushrooms and a little salt and cook, stirring occasionally – but not too often, you want them to brown in spots – for 5 to 7 minutes, until done to your liking.
When the risotto is done, stir in the cooked mushrooms (reserve a few to decorate the top of each serving), Parmesan, parsley, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warm bowls, garnished with reserved mushrooms, parsley, and perhaps a shower of Parmesan and/or freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!
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