Farrotto con funghi e nocciole

Farro with Mushrooms and Hazelnuts

The Piedmont is famous for the cultivation of hazelnuts, especially the superb variety known as tonda gentile that is grown in the Langhe region, an area south of Asti celebrated for its red wines. The combination of mushrooms and hazelnuts is typical of the Piedmont, where now a few farmers are cultivating farro.

Ingredients

For the Mushrooms

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pounds assorted fresh mushrooms such as cremini, chanterelle, porcini, and portobello, in any combination, wiped clean and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 to 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 cups farro
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Unsalted butter for finishing

Method

To prepare the mushrooms, soak the dried porcini in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop finely. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside.

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter with the oil over high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms and sauté until they release some of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped porcini and their soaking liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Pour the stock into a saucepan, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and keep the stock at a bare simmer. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat the 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the farro and stir well to coat the farro with the butter or oil. Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and cook, stirring a few times, until the stock is almost absorbed. Then continue to add the liquid 1 cup at a time, always allowing it to be almost fully absorbed before adding more. Add the mushrooms and the hazelnuts with the last addition of stock and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to absorb the stock and combine the flavors. The farro is ready when it is tender but still chewy at the center. You may not need all of the stock. The whole process, beginning with sautéing the onion, should take about 40 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in a little butter for richness. Serve at once.

Wine

If you want to serve a white, try a Soave or Franciacorta. For a red, pour a Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Alba, Barbera del Monferrato, or a Merlot.