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Porcini, Caramelized Onion and Sage Risotto

The earthiness of Italy's beloved dried porcini mushrooms, the sweetness of onions and the sharp perfume of sage add up to a classic first course. Other dried mushrooms may be substituted for the porcini.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and sliced
      crosswise
  • 2 cups Arborio or medium-grain rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
      cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh sage leaves for garnish

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms and hot water. Soak for 30 minutes to soften. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop the mushrooms.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep the liquid hot.

In another heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until brown, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and mushrooms and stir until a white dot appears in the center of the grains, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Add the chopped sage, reserved mushroom soaking liquid (discarding any sediment at the bottom) and 3/4 cup of the stock. Adjust the heat under the rice to a simmer, if needed, so that the liquid bubbles and is absorbed slowly. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the liquid 3/4 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, until the rice starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking, adding the liquid 1/2 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, until the rice is just tender to the bite but slightly firm in the center and looks creamy, about 10 minutes more.

Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.

To serve, spoon the risotto into a shallow serving bowl. Garnish with the sage leaves.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Pasta Collection, Risotto, by Kristine Kidd (Time-Life Books, 1992).