From the Market


PartridgesPart 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.

MushroomsI 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.

Risotto 2Now, 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.



Chanterelle Risotto

Oh, these chanterelles.  What a surprise they were at the market yesterday.  When we lived in Bellingham, we used to go into the woods on Mt. Baker and forage for them in the fall, but we never got a batch this bounteous.  I’m estimating they cost about $4.00 per pound here, but I might not find them again this year.  That’s how it goes here: Grab them when you see them.
As we were drooling over them as they lay drying on their kitchen towel, our friend Shelly asked what we were going to do with them and actually, we hadn’t decided yet.  She suggested risotto, which was a great idea because we already had everything to make it so we could pull it off on a Monday night.
I adapted a recipe by Tyler Florence for Porcini and Chanterelle Risotto, but used a decadent whole pound of straight chanterelles.

Chanterelle Risotto

1/4 cupextra-virgin olive oil 
1/4 cup unsalted butter 
2 shallots, minced 
1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only 
1 fresh bay leaf 
2 cups white wine 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 cups arborio rice 
6 cups chicken stock 
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced 
1/2 cupParmesan

Warm a wide large heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-low flame. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and melt together. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes, or until translucent, and then toss the mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf into the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and begin to turn golden brown.
Pour 1 cup of the wine into the pan, and bring the liquid to a simmer, allowing the wine to evaporate. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are dry, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Discard the bay leaf.
Reduce the flame to low, and add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and melt. Stir in the rice and coat with the oil until the kernels are shiny, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the remaining 1 cup of white wine and let evaporate.
Add the chicken broth, 1 ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Do not add too quickly so as to prevent the kernels from exploding. Stir over a gentle flame until each ladle of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until most of the broth is incorporated and the risotto rice is al dente, about 25 minutes.
Fold the mushrooms back into the rice and season with salt, pepper and parsley.  Stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately. 

To make a completely honest disclosure, I’ve gotta tell you that my husband is the primary risotto maker in our family.  It’s one of his specialties and I was mostly his sous chef.