During the fall, the Sunday dinner dish I most look forward to making is this porcini mushroom risotto. Fresh porcini mushrooms have a limited season in Italy, where I live, so I always snap them up the second they become available. If you can’t get fresh porcini, don’t worry, you can also use the dried or frozen variety, or sub in any other type of fresh mushroom. The real key to this dish is making the risotto just right. Two of the most important tips for making sure it comes out perfectly: Don’t overlook the quality of the broth and make sure the rice has a good bite. And while leftovers are rare in my house, if there are any, you can make fried arancini the next day.
For the porcini mushrooms: In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and the smashed garlic clove. When the garlic has turned slightly golden, increase the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms, stirring frequently, until they have slightly browned and released some (but not all) of their water, no more than 10 minutes. The mushrooms should remain plump, not mushy. Add 2 large pinches of salt halfway through cooking. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the garlic, and set the mushrooms aside in a separate dish.
For the risotto: In a medium-sized pan, such as a sauté pan or saucier, over medium heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes; be careful to not let the onion brown.
Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until the rice is lightly toasted and becomes translucent, about 2 minutes, then add the wine. Stir the rice until the wine evaporates, about 1 minute, then add 1 cup of the broth.
Cook, stirring periodically to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan, until the broth has been absorbed, about 3 minutes. Repeat with another cup of broth until the liquid has been absorbed, 5 minutes more. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of broth until it has been absorbed.
After 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and test the doneness of the rice. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes. If, once the rice has absorbed the broth, more liquid is needed, add the remaining 1/2 cup broth. The rice is done when it is al dente (no longer chalky, but still has a bite to it).
Remove the risotto pan from the heat and vigorously stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter. Season to taste. The final dish should be loose and creamy, not stiff. Garnish your servings with chopped parsley, if using.
*Note: Keep the broth simmering on the stove while you add it to the rice to ensure even cooking of the risotto.