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Lorenza's Risotto

Risotto alla Lorenza
Reggio-Emilia is home to my friend Lorenza Lori, who cooks her risotto in a flavorful combination of a meat ragù and the soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms used in the dish, instead of the traditional broth and wine. The only addition I have made to Lorenza's recipe is the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano at the end. Serve this risotto as an accompaniment to an entrée or as a first course.


1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)


1/4 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 white onion, thinly sliced

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

2 cups chopped fresh or canned plum tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)

1/2 cup water

Salt to taste

6 tablespoons butter

2 cups Arborio rice

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Put the porcini in a large bowl and add 4 cups cold water.  Set aside to soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

To make the ragù, in a large skillet, heat the oil.  Add the onion and sauté until golden brown and almost caramelized.  Add the sausage, breaking up the meat, and brown it.  Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, and salt, mixing well.  Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Put the ragù in a bowl and set aside.

Drain the porcini mushrooms in a colander set over a bowl.  Dice the porcini and set aside.  Strain the porcini liquid several times to remove any sediment.  Pour it into a saucepan and bring it to just under a boil.  Keep warm over very low heat.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the rice and cook it for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to coat it well with the butter.  When the rice begins to make a crackling sound, lower the heat to medium low and add 1/4 cup of the reserved porcini liquid.  Cook, stirring, until all the liquid is absorbed.  Add 1/4 cup of the ragù and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid.  Then slowly add the remaining porcini liquid and sauce to the rice in alternate additions, 1/4 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb all the liquid each time before adding more.  You may not need to add all the porcini liquid; the rice should be al dente, not mushy.  Stir in the heavy cream and mushrooms.  Remove the rice from the heat and stir in the cheese.  Serve immediately.

This recipe is from Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1991.


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