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Mushroom Risotto
1 ounce (about 1 heaped cup) dried mushrooms, preferably porcinis
3 cups boiling water
1 quart additional water, or vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1/2 or 1 small onion, minced (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup minced)
3/4 pound fresh cultivated or wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and cut in thick slices
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried, to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, to taste
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or fumet blanc
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
  salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl or in a pyrex measuring cup and pour on the boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes. Line a strainer with cheesecloth or with a double thickness of paper towels, place it over a bowl and drain the mushrooms. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer to extract all the liquid, then rinse them in several changes of water to remove sand. Chop coarsely and set aside. Combine the mushroom soaking liquid with the additional water to make 7 cups. Add the soy sauce and salt. Taste and adjust the salt. It should be well seasoned. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a low simmer.

2. Heat one tablespoon of the oil or butter over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the dried and fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms begin to release liquid, and add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Cook, stirring, until the mushroom liquid has just about evaporated, and add the remaining oil and the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle.

3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to add another ladleful of stock and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necesary.

Advance preparation: Although the best way to make risotto is to cook it all the way through and serve immediately, you can cook it halfway through several hours ahead, then return to it later with good results. Proceed with the recipe and cook halfway through Step 3, that is, for about 15 minutes. The rice should still be hard when you remove it from the heat. Spread it in an even layer in the pan and keep it away from the heat until you resume cooking. 15 minutes before serving, resume cooking as instructed.

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