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Author Notes: My dad and I got caught in a rainstorm on the Buda side of the city and found ourselves in front of a welcoming restaurant. One recipe immediately beguiled me: egg-noodle and wild-mushroom gratin. My mouth watered; what could be more welcoming on a cold, rainy day? Well. That "gratin" was among the most disappointing restaurant experiences of my life. Unadorned egg noodles, blanketed in a sheet of bland, hardly-melted, rubbery cheese; a few bits of slimy bolete...and did I mention the scattering of raw red pepper chunks? When I got home I resolved to perfect it, and spurred by the dish's success, branched out into more variations. This soubise-like rice casserole, rich with mushrooms, has become a new rainy-day comfort-food favorite. It's a lovely vegetarian main, with a green salad on the side. (And I once added some sauteed chestnuts to good effect.) —Sadie
ounces dried mushrooms - I've used porcini, chanterelle, morels. Alternatively, about 1 cup wild mushrooms sauteed in butter
cups chopped sweet onion
cup uncooked rice
cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
tablespoons white wine
Salt and Pepper
teaspoon fresh thyme
cup almonds, optional
- Preheat the oven to 325. Butter a casserole dish. If using almonds, I like to pop them in the oven a few minutes to toast.
- Soak the mushrooms in boiling water until hydrated, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet and cook the onions slowly, stirring often, until soft, about 20 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms, add them for the final 5 minutes of cooking.
- Now, par-boil the rice in boiling water for 5 minutes.
- Mix everything together, including 2-3 Tablespoons of reserved mushroom liquid (avoiding grit.) Bake until crusty, 1 - 1.25 hours. Garnish with toasted almonds, if desired.