On a cold and rainy weekend like we’re having here in the Northeast, there can hardly be a dish more satisfying than this Mushroom Farrotto. Never heard of farrotto before? It’s a deliciously close cousin of risotto, but instead of being made with Arborio or Carnaroli rice, it’s made with whole farro, an ancient Italian grain that gives the dish a rustic charm and chew. This is one of the first recipes I developed at Cook’s Illustrated, and if I’m being honest, it’s still one of my favorites. For such a simple meal it’s incredibly flavorful, really easy to make, and super adaptable. In fact, I created three different takes on this dish for the magazine. This Mushroom Farrotto, a Parmesan Farrotto, and a Farrotto with Pancetta, Asparagus and Peas.
Farro has such a hearty bran layer that it doesn’t shed starch like rice does (the key to a creamy risotto) and so a quick blitz of the grains in a blender to crack about half of them will unlock creamy success here. The dish is built much like a risotto with aromatics being sautéed then the grains being added to the pot and toasted before adding the liquid. But unlike risotto, here the hot stock gets added all at once and there is hardly any stirring required until the very end of cooking.
I think you’ll enjoy the parmesan version any time of year, the mushroom one is a perfect Fall-Winter treat, but if you’re curious about the pea-asparagus version, save it for the Spring when the vegetables are in peak season form. It’ll be here before you know it!
Cheers – Steve
- 1 1/2 cups whole farro
- 3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
- 1/2 onion, chopped fine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan, grated (¾ cup)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- Pulse farro in blender until about half of grains are broken into smaller pieces, about 6 pulses.
- Microwave porcini mushrooms and 1 cup water in covered bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms in fine-mesh strainer lined with coffee filter. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and finely chop porcini mushrooms.
- Add remaining 5 cups water to saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain gentle simmer.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add cremini mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until moisture released by mushrooms evaporates and pan is dry, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onion and chopped porcini mushrooms and continue to cook until onion has softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add farro and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Stir 5 cups hot water into farro, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until almost all liquid has been absorbed and farro is just al dente, about 25 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.
- Add thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until farro becomes creamy, about 5 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat. Stir in Parmesan, chives, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust consistency with remaining hot water as needed. Serve immediately.