Recipe: Savory-Sweet Muscat Risotto

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Mushroom risotto is one of the great clichés of vegetarian food: In the spring and summer, it's hard to find a restaurant that doesn't make this their lone meatless offering. (In the fall and winter, it's squash ravioli.) I came up with this variation because I was tired of the usual porcini-based risotto and because, let's be honest, risotto is just fun to experiment with.

The most important ingredient here is the muscat, a fortified dessert wine made from muscatel grapes. The sweetness is easy to over-do, so try for a dry bottle. I recommend any of the wonderful Australian muscats from Rutherglen, which are unusual for their deep red, almost amber color and earthy flavor notes of raisins, toffee, and citrus.

Makes 6 servings.

    • 4 or more cups homemade vegetable stock
    • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
    • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, chopped
    • 1 cup minced shallots
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2 teaspoons rosemary, minced
    • 2 cups muscat dessert wine
    • 2 cups arborio rice
    • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer and cover.

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the shallots, garlic, and rosemary, stirring until soft. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and stir until completely absorbed. Ladle in the broth, about half a cup at a time, stirring regularly and adding more when broth is absorbed.

Stir in the rest of the butter, half the cheese, and the peas. Stir until absorbed and then remove from heat. Serve garnished with the remaining cheese.

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Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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