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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
- 3 ounces dried mushrooms - I've used porcini, chanterelle, morels. Alternatively, about 1 cup wild mushrooms sauteed in butter
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 cups chopped sweet onion
- 2/3 cup uncooked rice
- 1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
- 1 cup cream
- 3 tablespoons white wine
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/2 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.