During the Autumn, here in Scania it is considered a great sport to put on the walking boots and head for a mushroom hunt in the forest. This year I am going on such a journey for the third time - and it is not unusually that one goes on a few trips each autumn. Chanterelles begin pop out of the earth in late July and in some cases you can find mushrooms late into the autumn. Last winter was so mild that according to the news chanterelles were found even in late December by a family taking a Christmas stroll in the forest.
I am most excited about stumbling upon chanterelles in the forest. I am also partial to a bit of ceps, slippery Jack, bovine Bolete and other tasty boletus mushrooms. Although, I am not yet confident enough to pick the amanitas. I head out for the forest-hunt armed with mushroom handbooks and the appropriate and mushroom-relevant "apps" in my phone - with experience I will hopefully develop a ever keener eye. It is a good rule to only pick the mushrooms you recognize and leave other musrooms be. You should also make it a habit to pick mushrroms into a basket in order to distribute the spores around the forest as you strut through it. In that way you maintain the balance of the forest!I made this dish in the beginning of August and invited my friend and colleague, Arnfríður Henrýdóttir, to dinner and of course she was recruited in the kitchen!
Delicious Risotto with Wonderful Chanterelles and Plentiful Parmesan
As I mentioned previously, I have a penchant for chanterelles. They are beautiful to look at, a pleasant glowing orange with an aroma of dried apricots and forest earth. They are sometimes hard to find because sometimes they look like fallen autumn leaves. They are commonly found in hollows in mixed forests, and often grow in a circle so if you find one, good chances are that you find another.
|A beautiful Chantarelle|
|Cleaning the mushrooms|
And, as I said before, our friend Addý had to work for her food. She was provided with a small brush so she could clean any excess dirt of the mushrooms. You should of course do this while you are still in the forest, so you distribute the spores over the forest floor instead of the kitchen table.
|Starting the risotto|
First, I fried the following over medium heat: finely diced white onion, four garlic cloves and two sticks of celery in a splash of oil - until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Then I added about 400-500 gr of Arborio rice and fried for a couple of minutes. You have to be careful to stir so the rice and the vegetables will not burn.
You need at least three glasses of wine to make a proper risotto. You pour the first glass over the rice when the sides of each grain turn translucent. The second glass is of course destined for the chef and the third glass you drink with the meal!
|Adding some wine|
In any case, you wine is reduced and when it has almost evaporated, you pour in some chicken or vegetable stock.
I happened to have some home made chicken broth in the freezer. I made it over the summer after having rummaged through my freezer in search for carcasses of "Bjäre kyckling" (a gourmet chicken here in Sweden). As a result, I made nearly 10 liters of powerful chicken stock which I divided into bags so I could grab one when in need. In situations like this one!
|A ladle at a time|
One should add only one ladle of stock at a time - nothing more! ;Making risotto requires care and attention - you have to follow your heart! Allow each ladle of stock to boil away - and give the rice a chance to absorb the flavorful stock and release the starch that will later thicken the risotto.
And you have to remain at the risotto's side. You have to stir the rice continuously so the liquid is evenly distributed and nothing will be burned to the bottom.
|Stirring is essential|
You keep adding stock until the rice become al dente like pasta. A few minutes before the rice is cooked you can attend to the next step, i.e. adding whatever ingredients you have chosen to the risotto - this time chanterelles - but in actuality you can use almost anything - other mushrooms, asparagus, beans, the sky is the limit. Simultaneously, season to taste.
|A feast of chantarelles|
When the risotto is ready you have to taste and season according to your taste. As a finishing touch, it is good to add a knob of butter and a handful of Parmesan, which is stirred into the concoction.
|Close with butter and parmigiana cheese|
With the food we had a little bit of this bag-in-box. Trivento Chardonnay - Chenin, which we had in the fridge. I have tasted this wine at some point before - and it's quite nice. It originates in Argentine and is luminously yellow in the glass, smells of light fruit with corresponding fresh tones on the palate.
I would recommend a nice salad with this dish and maybe a loaf of good bread - and, of course, a generous scraping of Parmesan cheese over the lot never goes a miss.
|Serve the meal|