“Farrotto” is a risotto made with farro instead of rice. It has a crunchier consistency than risotto but it’s high in protein and low in gluten, making it a nice alternative. Farro is a quite ancient grain that grows best in the mountains and that is why perhaps farro and funghi porcini (which are best found in chestnut and beech forests 600 m a.s.l and higher) make such a great pairing.
Fresh porcini are seldom available in Canada (a good reason for a trip to Italy in September besides the vendemmia!), but dried porcini offer a good substitute and it’s important to pre-soak them for 30 minutes in lukewarm water. The pearled farro I used for this recipe has had the hull removed, which shortens the cooking time.
Before focusing on the recipe, a few tips for farrotto preparation:
1. wash the pearled farro thoroughly
2. add one cup of vegetable broth or boiling water at a time and stir frequently- if you add too much water altogether the farro will get too watery and not as flavourful, if you add too little or leave it unattended it will stick to the pan causing a lot of frustration.
3. be generous with olive oil and parmigiano but be judicious with salt: if using broth instead of boiling water, reduce the salt and consider that new olive oil is quite spicy. You can always adjust salt half way through.
- 300 g pearled farro. If you don’t find it, pre-soak regular farro (follow instructions on package as soaking time may vary)
- 40 g dried porcini- pre-soaked in lukewarm water for 30 min DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WATER!
- 150 g fresh funghi- portobello or a mix of your favourites
- 1 shallot
- 2 garlic cloves- peeled and smashed
- 2 tbsp of fresh Italian parsley- chopped
- vegetable broth or boiling water- depending on the farro, you may need 3-5 cups of either water or broth
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt q.b (quanto basta = use your judgment)
1. Drain the porcini and chop them together with the other funghi.
2. In a saucepan heat 4 tbsp of EVOO for less than a minute, add the finely chopped shallot and the garlic cloves. At medium heat, stir occasionally until shallot is soft.
3. Add funghi, cook uncovered at medium heat for 15 min.
4. Add farro, stir for 2-3 minutes to let it soak the funghi flavour. Start adding the water you used to rinse the porcini and other broth or boiling water as needed 1 cup at the time.
TIP: Wait until the water is almost all absorbed before adding the next cup of boiling water/broth and continue until farro is fully cooked (follow cooking time on the package). It’s important that you keep the pot uncovered, medium-high heat and stir often to avoid the farro sticking to the pot.
5. When you are half way through, adjust salt and add half of the chopped parsley.
6. Once farro is fully cooked (should still be moist), turn off the pot, add the remaining parsley and keep it covered for 2 minutes.
Serve it with a drizzle of olive oil. Usually we don’t add parmigiano to porcini but if you are a big fan add just a tsp.