Risotto with Porcini Caramelized Onion and Sage

Risotto with Porcini Caramelized Onion and SageThe Big Show
On Monday, I spent hours walking up and down the aisles of this year’s Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center. I love this show. It’s so motivating! And while there may not always be a huge number of new producers or revolutionary products, every time you get that many food people in a room I can’t help but come away feeling energized and excited about the world of food. (By the time we left the show I was totally ready to buy a goat farm and make my own cheese and/or caramels. And don’t get me started on grinding my own wheat for bread, or foraging for mushrooms).

As always there numerous interesting products to try. I found an amazing mushroom product company called Wineforest Wild Foods. They are based in Napa and have some of the most beautiful mushroom products. We will be bringing some of their products in soon but you can check out their website. I’m looking forward to the Porcini Polenta and the Forest Farro.

Food-wise it seems that lately there are a lot of great things coming out of Portland—and the Pacific Northwest in general. One of my personal favorites was a company called Unbound Pickling. All of their produce and herbs are sourced locally, and each jar is hand packed. They’re gorgeous. My two favorites were the Bacon Pickles (anything with bacon!), and the Pickled Walla Walla Sweets. So tasty. Look for those on our shelves soon.

Tea is always a big category but this year it wasn’t just your usual cuppa. A company called Owl’s Brew introduced their line of Tea Mixers crafted for cocktails. They were outstanding, and very refreshing. Perfect for the coming Spring and Summer seasons. With three different flavors meant to be mixed with a variety of your favorite spirits, there’s something to please everyone. My favorite was the Pink & Black with Whiskey. (This was one of the first things I tasted when the show opened at 10 AM! Nothing like a shot first thing in the morning.)

The one big takeaway that I had from the show, and I think everyone noticed, was a big shift across all the categories to real food. By real food, I mean that producers are making things simply and with actual food—not chemicals or engineered food-like substances. Ingredient lists no longer require a Ph.D. to decipher. Sodas are being made with cane sugar. Bye-bye corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Agave is king if you don’t want regular sugar, and it was an ingredient in a huge number of “healthier alternative” products, and some of the not-so-healthy foods and drinks as well. And yes, there was, of course, plenty of kale and chia.

This change in thinking was to me by far the best thing about the show this year. (Well, that and the fact that the crazy water fad appears to have exceeded it’s 15 minutes of fame. Finally.) It was all about the food and nothing but the food, put together by people with a passion who know what they are doing. And it is good. 

Risotto with Porcini Caramelized Onion and Sage
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Pasta Collection, Risotto, by Kristine Kidd
Yields 6 Servings

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the earthiness of the mushrooms from Wineforest Wild Foods.

3/4 ounce dried Wineforest Foods porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water
5 1/2 cups Kitchen Basic chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
2 cups Arborio or medium-grain rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh sage leaves for garnish

Place the mushrooms in a small bowl, and pour the hot water over to cover. Allow to soak until soft. (about 30 minutes). Strain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop the mushrooms.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and keep the liquid hot.

In another heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until brown (about 10 minutes). Add the rice and mushrooms to the broth, and stir the mixture until a white dot appears in the center of the grains, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir again until it is absorbed (about 2 minutes).

Add the chopped sage, reserved mushroom soaking liquid (discarding any sediment) and 3/4 cup of the stock. Adjust the heat under the rice to a simmer, if needed, so that the liquid bubbles and is absorbed slowly. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the remaining liquid 3/4 cup at a time, and stirring almost constantly, until the rice starts to soften (about 10 minutes). Continue cooking in this manner: adding the liquid 1/2 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, until the rice is just tender to the bite but slightly firm in the center and looks creamy, about 10 minutes more.

Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.

Spoon the risotto into a shallow serving bowl. Garnish with the sage leaves and serve.
Serves 6.



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