Risotto really is just about perfect comfort food, isn’t it? I make it fairly often in lots of variations, but a mushroom-studded version is one of my favorites. I generally use dried mushrooms from the pantry, along with the liquid left from soaking them, but last night’s version featured only the fresh kind – a mixture of crimini, shiitake, and hen of the woods, which were sauteed in the same pan with butter, olive oil, and softened chopped shallots.
I threw a thinly sliced fresh red chile into the pan, too, to add a little heat, and a few leaves of thinly sliced fresh sage in lieu of my usual thyme. Since I wasn’t going to have that concentrated umami flavor from the addition of mushroom soaking liquid, I added a dab of tomato paste instead, letting it caramelize on the softened veggies and toasting rice before I gradually added my liquids to the pan (white vermouth and plain old water). I usually finish risottos with a knob of butter, but since I had used up the last we had on hand in the sauteeing, I drizzled in a little bit of heavy cream. The finished dish was a bit more delicate in flavor than my usual mushroom risotto, more cashmere blanket than woolen throw, but just as cozy and satisfying.