Mushroom and Leek Risotto
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms, optional
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large leek, washed thoroughly and sliced
1/2 shallot or 1/4 small red onion, finely diced
2 cups roughly chopped fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (1 pound) white arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or cream sherry
4 to 5 cups liquid, such as chicken broth, beef broth, the water used to steep dried mushrooms
Parmesan cheese, to serve
If using dried mushrooms, place them in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Sauté the leek and shallot in the butter for 10 minutes, or until soft.
Push the leek and shallot up against the edge of the pan, and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the fresh mushrooms to the center of the pan. Cook for several minutes without stirring, then flip them over and cook until nicely browned. If using dried mushrooms, drain them now (reserving the steeping liquid) and add them to the pan. Stir in the thyme leaves and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Add the rice and stir to coat evenly with the butter and vegetables. Sauté for several minutes, or until the rice begins to turn translucent. Pour in the white wine or cream sherry and stir until it is nearly gone.
Continue adding the remaining liquid (broth, or a mixture of broth and the steeping liquid from the dried mushrooms), stirring frequently. Continue adding liquid and stirring until the rice is cooked to al dente, cooked-through completely but still with a bit of a bite. Taste and season if necessary with additional salt and pepper.
Serve with grated Parmesan on top.