It is always exciting when the wild garlic first appears. I have a particular spot in Cannizaro Park, although I am not telling you exactly where, that I always can rely on at this time of year to produce a small harvest. If you are out walking at this time of year and get a whiff of garlic, follow your nose and you are sure to find some. The leaves are luscious green and they have a delicate, pretty white flower in the centre of each bunch. They actually give off a stronger garlic smell than taste and are best just wilted into dishes right at the end of cooking. If they are not in your box, be sure to add them as an extra as they are not around for long. They are particularly good in risotto.
Risotto is really simple and versatile supper. Such a different verity of vegetables can be used and it requires just a few store cupboard ingredients. It is great if you make your own stocks, but don’t be put off if you don’t, good stock cubes are fine. I prefer chicken but you can use vegetable instead. I know the recipe tells you to stir all the time, and so you should. It is nice to take time and stand still for once, but personally I rarely find I have 20 minutes to stand in one place, so if you need to add two ladles of stock at a time and stir a little less, it will still be delicious.
Mushroom and Wild Garlic Risotto
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced
20g dried Porcini
1 litre of stock (or 1 litre of water and 2 stock cubes)
200g risotto rice (Aborio or Carnaroni)
100mls white wine
freshly ground black pepper
50g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
A large handful of garlic greens, washed and roughly chopped
Heat the stock or dissolve the stock cubes in boiling water and keep simmering. Pour a ladle of boiling stock over the dried Porcini and allow to sit. In a separate pan, heat 2/3 of the butter, add the onions and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. Next add the mushrooms and cook until all the liquid has cooked away and they begin to fry. Drain the Porcini adding the liquid, minus any grit, to the stock. Roughly chop the Porcini and add to the mushrooms. Stir for a minute more and add the rice and turn up the heat. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, and keep stirring to encourage the rice to release its starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will result in a creamy risotto and will take around 15 – 20 minutes. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite but not chalky. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter and Parmesan. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Finally stir in the wild garlic leaves and eat it as soon as possible.