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Heavy-Bottomed Pot Recipe: Risotto Ai Funghi

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Serves 3 as a starter or 2 as a  main 

• 4 cups homemade chicken stock 
• 2½ Tbsp unsalted butter
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• ½ lb assorted mushrooms (such as white button, shitake, and/or porcini)
• 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (rehydrated in hot stock; allow any sediment to sink to bottom of bowl and discard)
• 1 Tbsp brandy
• Kosher salt
• Black pepper in a mill
• 1 tsp chopped thyme or sage leaves
• ½ small Spanish onion, minced
• 1¼ cups risotto rice, such as Arborio
• ½ cup dry white wine
• ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

Make the risotto

Pour the stock into a pot and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Keep the heat at a simmer; don’t boil aggressively. Meanwhile, heat a wide, deep, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and tilt the pan to coat it. Add the fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until they give off their liquid and are tender, about 8 minutes. Pour in the brandy and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon of the thyme or sage, cook for another minute or two, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and tip to coat bottom of pan. Add the onions and rehydrated porcini mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until onions have softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly to coat it with the fat, and keep cooking and stirring until the grains turn opaque at the center, without allowing them to brown, about 3 minutes.

Pour in the wine and cook, stirring continuously, until the wine has been absorbed by the rice, about 5 minutes. Ladle in about 1 cup of the stock and cook, stirring constantly and narrowing and expanding the width of your stirring, until the rice absorbs the stock. Continue to add the stock in half-cup increments, stirring constantly, and only adding more once the stock has been completely absorbed by the rice. During this time, if any rice begins to scorch or stick to the bottom of the pot, lower the heat slightly. After about 15 minutes, when there is only about a cup of simmering stock remaining in the pot, stir in the remaining tablespoon of thyme or sage, and begin adding the stock more judiciously, just a few tablespoons at a time. Stop adding stock when the risotto is nicely moistened, and the grains are al dente but not undercooked. (Remove one with a teaspoon and taste it; it should offer some resistance but not taste raw.) 

Fold mushrooms into the risotto with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cheese. Taste and season if necessary. 

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