Porcini and Squash Risotto

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If I were left to die on an abandoned island and I had the choice to take one thing with me, Porcini mushrooms would at the top of the list. Unfortunately for me, I live in a house of fungus haters and therefore I am metaphorically on that island only without the “Boletus edulis” in question. Mushrooms do not play a huge role in the cuisine of Greece and therefore porcinis are not readily available at every corner market. But I can still get my fungus fix from a variety of specialty shops, at a staggering price of 100 euros a kilo. Luckily they are dried and sold in 50 gram portions for about 5 euros. With the change of seasons and the proliferation of various squashes at the market, I decided to match a nice piece of hubbard squash with some porcinis to create a fine risotto. As a bonus (for me) this dish had a lot of mushrooms in it so all the leftovers were mine to savour.

What you need:

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 50g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4 of a large hubbard squash (or 1butternut squash)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (warm)
  • 1 cup of wine (red or white will do)
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 100g butter
  • 2 cups grated Graviera cheese (or Romano)

How it’s done:

  • Peel the squash and cut it into pieces.
  • Cut the top off the garlic
  • Drizzle them both with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for an hour or so until soft and caramelized. This can be done in advance and stored in the fridge until ready.
  • Pour just enough boiling water over the porcinis to rehydrate them. This should take about half an hour. Reserve the liquid and add it to the stock.
  • In a deep pot, add half of the butter and a drizzle of olive oil with the onions and cook until translucent.
  • Turn the heat down to about medium and add the rice. Cook until the rice feels squeaky sticky and is well coated in the oil (about a minute or so)
  • Add the cup of wine and stir until evaporated.
  • At this point you can add the squash and porcinis.
  • Now for the fun part, begin to add the stock one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly to release the starch in the rice (this is what gives it the creamy texture)
  • If at some point you run out of stock and the rice is not soft, finish the process with hot water.
  • When the rice is soft, remove it from the heat, stir in the butter and cheese and let it stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.

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