CLASSIC pasta the ultimate mushroom risotto









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Here is the ultimate fall, change-of-season, mushroom risotto -- alive with the wonderful woodsy smell of autumn.


  • two cups of Arborio rice
  • three-quarters (0.75) of an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms
  • twelve ounces of wild, fresh mushrooms, in any mix, such as shitake or morels. (if wild mushrooms are not available, use a variety of fresh white button and crimini mushrooms)
  • three leeks (slightly less than a pound)
  • one quarter cup of olive oil
  • three cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • one tablespoon of anchovy paste
  • four to six cups of home-made or canned meat stock
  • ten sprigs of fresh thyme
  • eight leaves (two tablespoons) of fresh sage
  • two bay leaves
  • two cups of arborio or equivalent rice
  • one half cup red wine
  • one teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • one-third cup of freshly grated parmesan

Putt the dried porcini in a bowl with a cup of luke-warm water. Let the porcini soak for twenty minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the bowl with a slotted spoon, squeeze out the water, dry with a paper towel, and then chop them in small dices. Set aside.

Save the mushroom water, putting it through a strainer first to get rid of the particles. Set aside.

Cut the leeks into three inch lengths. Then cut each in half lengthwise. Then slice these halves into thin semi-circles. Soak these leek semi-circle slices in cold water for fifteen minutes. Drain. Set aside

Get rid of the stems of the mushrooms you are using, and then cut the good tops into very thin slices, or even chop into small squares. Set aside.

to cook: (a more detailed and elaborate description of the risotto cooking technique can be found at how to cook risotto).

Create the stock: put the meat stock in a pan next to the risotto pan. Add the thyme, sage, bay leaves and reserved porcini liquid. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a steady simmer.

In a thick-bottomed pan (the risotto pan), over medium-high heat: add the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and let it sizzle. Add the leeks and the anchovy paste. Cook until the leeks just start to soften; do not brown. About four minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring all  the time, for about four minutes, until the mushrooms soften.

Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated with the oil. Add the half cup of red wine. Cook and stir until it is absorbed by the rice, about two minutes. Add a half teaspoon of salt. Add the chopped porcini. Now add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, only adding another ladle when the previous ladle of liquid has been absorbed, stirring all of the time. Continue until the rice is almost done, about fifteen minutes. Remove the bay leaves.

Determine proper doneness by tasting regularly. When it is al dente, with a little creaminess, it is ready. Take off the heat. Stir in the two tablespoons of butter and the parmesan. Taste for salt, and add a couple of good grindings of the pepper mill.

Cover and set aside for two minutes. Serve. As an added attraction add a couple of leaves of sage.



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