Wild Mushroom & Sage Risotto

I love risotto. Even though it is a time-consuming dish, I find the process so therapeutic, as it requires patience and presence throughout. I also enjoy how versatile it is. I've had it with spring peas and asparagus, or like I am presenting it here, with wild mushrooms and fresh sage from my garden.

From making risotto more than a few times in my life thus far, my biggest piece of advice is to have everything prepped ahead of time and your liquids pre-measured and next to you at the stove. Keep your broth hot in a small saucepan next to your risotto pot, since you will need to have easy access to the broth and because keeping it hot allows for faster absorption. This also true for your wine glass; if you're cooking with with you might as well be drinking some :)

Patience and presence are most important to a great risotto, so grab your glass of wine, put on some good music (or have some good company present), and get ready to be there - stirring - for a while. I promise it is worth it.

This version is a combination of risotto recipes I've read and past experience making risotto, mixed with wild mushrooms sauteed with sage, sweet onions, and raw milk Parmesan (real stuff only - stay away from the green shaker). I folded in some cooked wild rice for a little twist, but you can leave this out if you don't have access to wild rice. I also found this incredible addition of homemade porcini mushroom "paste," which adds incredible earthiness and flavor to this dish. Pair with a dusty red wine or a smooth chardonnay, plus a garnish of fresh sage and shaved Parm, and you've got a hearty dish able to stand on its own.


Wild Mushroom & Sage Risotto
Makes one really big pot

7 c water, divided
1/2 c wild rice
1 c dried porcini mushrooms, washed and sliced (stems included)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb mixed wild mushrooms, such as crimini or shiitake
1/4 c fresh sage, sliced thin, plus a few small leaves for garnish
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 medium sweet onions, diced (regular onions are fine)
2 c arborio rice
2 c dry white wine (that you would actually drink)
6-7 c vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth here if you like)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Heat 4 cups of water with a dash of salt in a small saucepan until boiling. Add the wild rice and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. The water will not be completely absorbed, so drain the remaining water and set the rice aside.

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the remaining 3 cups of water (which should be hot). While the mushrooms are soaking, heat a generous pour of olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add crushed garlic and saute just until browned; remove from oil and discard. Add mushrooms and sage and saute until softened and pliable; place in a bowl and set aside.

Remove porcini mushrooms from water and place in a blender or food processor. Save 2 cups of soaking liquid. Add a splash of the remaining one cup liquid to the blender and puree with the mushrooms until you achieve a paste-like consistency, adding more liquid if necessary. Set paste aside and discard any remaining liquid.

Heat a 4 tbsp of olive oil in the large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and a healthy dash of salt and saute 2-3 minutes or until onions are softened. Add arborio rice and saute one minute until toasted. Add wine and stir until wine is completely absorbed. Add mushroom soaking water and enough broth to cover the rice. Stir until combined. Repeat this two more times with the broth. On the third repetition, stir in the mushrooms and 2 tbsp of the porcini paste. Add remaining broth to cover the rice mixture and stir until liquid is just absorbed. Fold in cooked wild rice and continue stirring until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese until melted. Add salt to taste.

Serve in warmed bowls with shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves.

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