Part of the thrill of living in another country is never knowing what you might find at the local market. There is no way of predicting what people in the countryside are cultivating or catching, and often, when you see something interesting, it is a one-time opportunity. If you don’t grab it, it will be gone.
As Allan and I were leaving with our food purchases last Sunday, we spotted this breeding pair of Barbary partridges in a small homemade cage. We loved them instantly. They are beautiful, but also, there is something about their personalities, calm and a little shy. We’ve got them all set up on our terrace, now, right outside the kitchen, where we can watch them, while they watch the garden, and enjoy their gentle chucking.
That same morning, we had grabbed about a kg of these hand-harvested mini chanterelles.
I had been planning to make a risotto anyway, so these quickly became the focal point. I won’t go into the recipe for risotto; the process is fairly standard, and you can easily search it. I included the mushrooms, leeks, some homemade chicken stock, and a good amount of grated parmesan, so it was loaded with umami.
Now, remember last spring when I was in Sicily and going on about the best arancini in the town of Taormina? I then vowed to get into the arancini-making business, but hadn’t made a single one, yet. As my friend, Peggy, advised me at the time, you must use leftover risotto. The gluten in the rice transforms, so they form up perfectly a day or two later. She was exactly right, and it was a quick process to scoop and press the balls, rolling them in a sequence of flour, beaten egg, and seasoned bread crumbs. We then pan-fried them, in olive oil, over very low heat until they were golden. These freeze well. Reheat them, right from the freezer, in a 350 degree oven.