Saffron risotto with dried porcini

Yield: 6 servings

Measure Ingredient
1 ounce Dried porcini
2 quarts Rich poultry stock
5 tablespoons Butter
1 medium Yellow onion(s) finely chopped
1 pinch Saffron about 30 threads
2 ounces Pancetta sliced 1/8\" thick then diced
2 cups Arborio rice
¾ cup Dry white wine
\N \N Salt and pepper
½ cup Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated

In a medium saucepan, add the porcini to the poultry stock; bring it gently to a simmer, remove from the heat, and let stand until the porcini are tender and rehydrated, 8-10 minutes - but not more than about 10 minutes or the porcini will render all their flavor and taste bland in the rice. Strain, reserving both the porcini and the broth. Return the broth to the heat and bring it to a low simmer.

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, warm 2 tbs of the butter, add the onions and saffron and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook for about another 3 minutes.

Increase the heat and add the rice, stirring often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to make sure it is well coated with hot butter. When you notice the rice turning from opaque to shiny and translucent, add the wine. Let the wine reduce away, add the rehydrated porcini, and then add enough hot broth to just barely cover the rice, about 1« cups. Stir well, reduce the heat, and simmer gently, stirring often.

Continue adding broth in ¬-cup increments as the rice begins to absorb it, keeping the risotto at a constant simmer and stirring often. Keep the level of the broth just above the rice.

After about 15 minutes, the rice will have lost most of its hard-kernel quality but will still be firm in the middle. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes more. Taste for texture; when it's still slightly chewy, but yielding, add the remaining butter, and season with salt and pepper. (Remember when you add the salt, that you'll later add cheese, another salty element.) Finally, correct the consistency of the rice and surrounding liquid by adjusting the heat. The goal is to bring about a marriage of rice, broth, and the final addition of butter; the mixture should be nearly pourable, the whole reduced to the point that there is no separation between broth and rice. Serve at once in warm, wide bowls. Sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano at the table.

Fine Cooking October-November 1995 Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 09-29-95

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