It has been over six weeks since I put a new post up here; shocking I know, I apologise. The reason for this is that I moved to Edinburgh to live and get a job as a chef, so I’ve been busy sorting out the flat in my days off and didn’t get internet sorted out until recently. My job is at Wedgwood restaurant on the Royal Mile; the cuisine is fantastic and quite fancy so it’s a great place to learn, which is what I am there for. My life is now centred even more on food, as I am cooking every day at work and then planning things for the Grubdaily Grotto when I’m at home! Things couldn’t be better.
I went back home to the farm this weekend for a bit of a gathering with the folks. Lots of food and wine and merriment was had. It also just happened to be the perfect season for my favourite mushrooms: chanterelles! There is a particular spot in the woods, beneath the silver birch trees, where I know I can find them. So we went up to see what we could find, and were not disappointed. There is a deep satisfaction in strolling through the woods foraging for mushrooms, knowing that they’re going to be turned into something really delicious back in the kitchen. Chanterelles are amazing things. Such an outrageous bright yellow colour, and with their trumpet-shaped curves they seem almost other-worldly. Surely the most photogenic of mushrooms.
It seems about time I put a risotto recipe up here. You may have noticed that I have a thing for Italian food; I love the ethos behind it: simple and delicious. Risotto was introduced to me a few years ago by my good friend Cecily, and I instantly fell in love with it. I love the mechanics; the constant meticulous stirring, coaxing the starch out of the rice. Since then I have made many many risottos. So here it is on the blog at last. The key to an excellent risotto, I believe, is to have a good stock. So if possible make it from scratch rather than using a stock cube. If you make a roast chicken for dinner, you can use the carcass to make stock and have a fantastic risotto for dinner the next day.
Risotto with Wild Chanterelles (serves 4)
Get a large, wide-bottomed pan and gently saute 1 large onion, 2 or 3 sticks of celery and 3 cloves of garlic for about 15 minutes until they are nice and soft. Meanwhile, get about 1.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock simmering in a separate pan, grate 100g of parmesan cheese ready for adding at the end and finely chop 2 large handfuls of flat-leaf parsley. Also, prep your chanterelles: tear or chop so that they’re all about the same size, leaving the small ones whole. You want about a handful of mushrooms per person. Once your onion base is nice and soft, turn up the heat, add 350g of risotto rice to the pan and stir briefly. Now add a generous glassful of dry white wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Turn the heat back down to a medium flame and add your stock in the same fashion, one-ladle at a time. Constant stirring is required to stop it sticking and to gently massage the starch out to make that lovely thick sauce. When the rice is al dente, add a large knob of butter, most of the chopped parsley and all of the parmesan. Give a good stir, then place a lid on the pan and leave to rest for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your chanterelles: melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan, and over a medium heat toss the chanterelles with a pinch of salt and pepper until just tender. Add the rest of the parsley and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Arrange as shown in the photo. Serve with more grated parmesan sprinkled over.