With the first October rains on the Pacific Coast, I go slightly mad, abandon everything, and go mushroom hunting.
The boletus edulis, or porcini, is abundant for
a brief exhilarating time, and I gather for a whole year.
Dried or fresh, they add incomparable flavor and richness to sauces, soups, or grains, as in this classic Italian dish.
Soak one ounce dried Porcini mushrooms in one cup dry white wine for an hour at least. If you have fresh ones, finely slice about a pound. Slowly brown a large red onion, diced, in 4 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter, until limp and golden-brown. If mushrooms are fresh, increase the heat and add them to the onions, tossing to saute rather than stew them. If dried, chop them coarsely, reserving the wine from soaking, and add to the skillet.
Add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped with a handful of Italian parseley. Add 2 cups raw rice, Italian Arborio is best, and saute all together, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Add 2 Tbsp. INTENSELY ITALIAN HERBS, the reserved wine, and begin adding warmed chicken stock, stirring constantly, adding more only as it is absorbed by the rice. This will take 3-4 cups of stock, and about 25 minutes.
When soft, add 1/2 cup parmesan, a pinch of saffron, salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, and serve immediately. It's a meal in itself or a sumptous side.