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Dried mushrooms, black truffle push risotto envelope

Risotto and mushrooms — dried mushrooms at that — both made me swoon during a recent meal reviewed for the weekly Tempo dining column.

Carriage House in Jacksonville packed so much flavor into its appetizer of warm mushrooms in beurre blanc and entree of carrot risotto that I unabashedly confessed an urge to lick the plate. So the two dishes combined would be utter culinary bliss, particularly if accented with black truffle.

Here’s a risotto recipe that really pushes the envelope, as I opined of Carriage House. It uses a specialty product, black truffle and mushroom sauce that’s available online. I’ve received marketing emails for more than a year from the company that manufactures it, Urbani, without giving them much thought. But with this recipe in hand, I could be persuaded to make an order.

If you’re not so inclined, recipe testers for the Chicago Tribune recommend substituting an extra ounce or two of dried mushrooms as directed and an additional 4 ounces of fresh mushrooms. A little drizzle of truffle oil or sprinkle of truffle salt — both more widely available than the truffle sauce — go a long way. I recently purchased a vial of locally compounded truffle salt at Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market.

Mushroom and Truffle Risotto With Green Chile and Spinach

1 to 1 1/2 ounces dried sliced mushrooms, such as sliced porcini, or small whole morel or shiitake (or a combination)

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, ends trimmed, halved, thinly sliced

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained

2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

1 (6.4-ounce) can black truffle and mushroom sauce, see note

4 cups baby spinach (2.5 to 3 ounces)

1 cup finely shredded (not grated) Parmesan cheese

Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

Large Parmesan shavings, for garnish (optional)

Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1 bottled truffle (about 1/2 ounce), finely chopped, for garnish (optional)

Truffle oil or salt (optional)

Put the dried mushrooms into a small bowl and cover with very hot water. Let stand until softened, for about 20 minutes.

Strain mushroom-soaking water through a fine mesh sieve or coffee filter into a medium saucepan. Add the broth. Roughly chop soaked mushrooms; set aside.

Heat a large (3 1/2- to 4-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and shallots; saute until soft, for 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic; saute for 1 minute. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms; saute until golden, for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in soaked mushrooms and the green chile. (Recipe can be made to this point up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate mushroom base and broth separately.)

Heat broth mixture over low heat to a simmer. Reduce heat to very low.

In large saucepan over medium heat, reheat mushroom mixture. Stir in the rice; cook, stirring, to toast grains, for 2 minutes. Stir in the black truffle and mushroom sauce. Heat mixture thoroughly, for about 3 minutes.

Ladle in about 1/2 cup hot broth mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously until rice has absorbed liquid. Stir in another 1/2 cup broth and repeat process, adding about 1/2 cup broth at a time, until rice has absorbed all broth and is nearly tender to the bite. Entire process takes about 25 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and shredded Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasonings with the salt and black pepper. Top with the Parmesan shavings and parsley. Serve right away, garnished with the truffle and truffle oil or truffle salt, if using.

Makes 6 servings.

Tribune News Service photo