Wild Mushroom Risotto with Radicchio Salad

Egyptian pharaohs forbade their subjects to eat mushrooms because they considered them to be the food of the gods and saved them for themselves, but I see no reason not to share this luxurious risotto with your guests.

The best time to clean mushrooms is just before you use them. Use a soft brush (you can buy a special one for mushrooms) or a slightly damp towel. Never soak them.

If you want to get real fancy, drizzle a little white truffle oil on each plate.

Serves 6.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, well washed, white parts only, cut into very small dice
3 cups fresh shiitake, chanterelle, or Portobello mushrooms, or a combination, trimmed and chopped
3 cups Arborio rice
¾ cup white wine
10 cups chicken or mushroom broth, or a combination
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram, rosemary, basil leaves, or chives, or a combination
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small head radicchio, minced
3 scallion greens, minced
¼ tomato, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
¾ to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place a large skillet over medium heat and when it is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the leeks and mushrooms and cook until they are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute, until it is well coated. Add the wine and cook until it has been absorbed, about 2 minutes.

2. Add ½ cup of the broth, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

3. Continue adding the broth, ½ cup at a time, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring well after each addition. Do not add more than 9 cups of broth. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, if desired, and stir well. Place the remaining 1 cup of broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

4. While the risotto is cooking, place the lemon, radicchio, scallion greens, tomato, and rosemary in a small mixing bowl, mix and set aside.

5. Just before serving, add the boiling broth to the risotto, stir well, and add the fresh herbs, cream, if desired, and Parmesan cheese. Divide between 6 heated individual shallow bowls and top with equal amounts of the radicchio mixture. Serve immediately.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)