Porcini Red Wine Risotto

If you're not from here I'd like you to know that  San Francisco gets its Summer weather the last week in September or in early October. We're in it now, so are wearing skirts with no tights, but the sun is going down as if it's Fall. It is always an odd time of year for me because the light is changing and I expect a chill in the air, just like when I was little in NY.

This time of year (no matter what the weather) always makes me want to have warm, satisfying rice or pasta dishes. The other day I decided to break out my stand by risotto recipe. It's fairly simple, and oh-so-satisfying.

Just a note, I don't eat cheese, so the only dairy product in this recipe is butter: I can't seem to remove it completely from my repertoire. There's just no replacement for the flavor andcreaminess butter brings to rice. But, if you'd like to make this completely vegan, replace the butter with Olive Oil, it works just fine.


  • 4 Bouillion Cubes (I use Porcini cubes, but you can use whatever type you like)
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 bag Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Red Wine (or enough to fully cover the Dried Porcini Mushrooms)
  • 3 tbsps Butter
  • 2 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • 4 Fresh Sage Leaves, minced (or 1/4 tsp Dried Sage)
  • Salt, Pepper and Red Pepper to taste

Make the Stock:

  • Heat the Bouillion and the water in a large saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, making sure all the cubes dissolve completely.Lower to a simmer and stir occasionally until it is time to add the liquid to the rice.

I love Porcini mushrooms. When I discovered this boullion, I just about fell over in glee. It is amazing how strongly the mushroom flavors comes through. In general, I'm more of a chicken stock kind of girl, and I do not care for veggie stock. It usually tastes way too much like celery for my liking. But these cubes make it possible to have the best of a non-meat based boullion and a well flavored broth all in one.

Soak the Dried Porcini

  • Pour the cup of red wine into a small saucepan.
  • Add the Porcini mushrooms, making sure there is enough wine to completely submerge them.Bring the wine to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Keep simmering for about fifteen minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.Pour the wine and mushrooms through a sieve or strainer, making sure to capture all of the liquid in a bowl beneath the strainer.
  • Chop mushrooms coarsely and set aside.Startthe Rice:

Again, Porcini is my favorite. Any chance I have to add them to a dish, I take it. The dried ones are usually what I have on hand, and they work well.

In San Francisco, there is a whole mushroom booth at the giant Ferry Building farmer's market. We're lucky enough to get frozen fresh Porcini there. It costs an arm and a leg, but the flavor is so intense you don't need to use that much, so a bag lasted me for a good six months in the freezer.

The red wine makes the depth of the earthy flavors shine through. If you can afford to use a higher quality cup of wine here, you'll taste the difference.

Start the Rice:

  • Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  • Add butter and allow to melt, then add the Olive Oil.• Lower heat to medium-low and add the minced garlic.
  • Saute garlic until almost opaque.• Add rice, stirring to cover all the grains in the butter/oil mixture

Quite simply, you are trying to get the rice to cook slowly so that it will toast somewhat in the beginning and then take its time absorbing all of the lovely stock and wine you are going to add to it.Take your time here, and if it seems things are starting to stick or burn, lower the heat and relax. If you like a glass of wine, now's a good time to grab one, as you get ready to stir for a bit.

Cook the Rice:

  • Using a 1/2 cup measure, add 1/2 cup of stock to the rice pot, stirring constantly.
  • As soon as the stock has been completely absorbed, add another 1/2 cup and stir until absorbed.
  • Alternating 1/2 cup of stock and wine, continue adding liquid and stirring to absorb until all the liquid has been added.
  • The rice should be soft and ready to eat once all the liquid has been incorporated.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add the sage, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the rice.

This is the most time consuming step, but again, just take it slow and don't worry, you'll be eating soon enough.

Make sure that all of the liquid gets absorbed before you make a move to add more. It's tough to wait, I know I've rushed it before and regretted it after the fact. The rice needs time to soak it all up before it takes another breath and is ready to drink up some more.

It'll be well worth your effort (and the number of pans you'll have to clean). It's a great Fall dish, especially if you live somewhere where the weather has actually started to shift to coolness.

Enjoy and eat up!