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Risotto-Style Farro with Porcini and Pecorino

Cookbook author Domenica Marchetti was introduced to farro years ago at a wonderful restaurant in Lucca, where it was used in a hearty soup with beans. The grain’s appealing chewy-tender texture and earthy flavor also make it perfect for this risotto-style dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, steeped in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed flat but left whole
  • 1 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms, such as cremini, portobello and shiitake, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated to a simmer
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus a handful of shaved pieces for garnish

Directions:

Drain the porcini, reserving the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and strain the broth into a clean bowl through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a damp paper towel. Set aside.

In a fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and the garlic. Add the fresh mushrooms and the porcini and toss gently to coat them with the oil. Sprinkle in the thyme and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender and a little browned, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. Set the mushrooms aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-low heat, combine the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and the shallot and sauté until the shallot is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and stir until well coated with the oil, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and reserved porcini broth, and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium and add a ladleful or two of the hot broth. Cook, stirring from time to time (you don’t have to stir it constantly), until the broth has been absorbed. Continue to cook, adding broth as needed, until the farro is tender but still pleasantly chewy, 25 to 30 minutes total.

Stir in the mushrooms, vinegar and grated cheese. Spoon the farrotto into a serving bowl, scatter the shaved cheese on top and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011).