The last of the root vegetables are coming through the kitchen and we say goodbye to braised and hearty, warming winter food. Come April our menu will feature English asparagus, spring lamb, jersey royal new potatoes, St Georges mushrooms and artichokes. Needless to say, we cant wait.
However one of the first ingredients that signifies the end of winter for us is wild garlic. As you walk through the woods at the bottom of the road, the unmistakable smell hits you. It appears as soon as the days start to warm and covers the floor of whole swathes of woodland. It’s free and easy to identify. So there’s no excuses. Get out and about.
It’s grassy pungent flavour works beautifully with beef, lamb, chicken, cod, mushrooms (especially morels) and many other things. It’s great thrown into a sauce at the last second to wilt gently and infuse. Its flavour mellows as it is cooked and produces a fantastic soup or puree. Just blanched in salted water and served alongside a peice of meaty cod its a vegetable in itself. The list goes on…
We’ve had numerous requests for our wild garlic risotto recipe and so here it is, as well as a few other things we do with this brilliant leaf.
Wild garlic risotto
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic
200g risotto rice (we use arborio)
1 glass of white wine
500g vegetable stock
2 big handfuls of wild garlic
50g parmesan, grated
2 large knobs of wild garlic butter (see below)
Warm the stock, In a separate pan sweat the onion, garlic and seasoning in a large knob of butter until soft and sweet but not coloured, add the rice and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, when all the grains are coated with butter and the rice smells slightly toasted add the wine and let it boil away to almost nothing. Now start adding the vegetable stock one large ladleful at a time constantly stirring the risotto. You want it to cook on a steady simmer so adjust the heat appropriately and when the pan starts getting dry, add more stock. When all the stock has been added, check the rice is cooked, you may have to add a little more stock or water. When you’re happy your rice is cooked remove it from the heat. Add your wild garlic, wild garlic butter and grated Parmesan and beat with a wooden spoon until the garlic wilts into the risotto and the butter and parmesan melt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, season, taste and serve.
It is wonderful topped with morels or St Georges mushrooms lightly fried in butter.
Wild garlic butter
4 big handfuls of wild garlic, roughly chopped
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
salt and lemon juice
Add the butter and garlic to a food processor and blitz to a pastel green. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.
We serve this with a rare onglet steak.
Wild garlic and potato soup
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek white, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1 litre of vegetable stock
8 big hanfuls of wild garlic
cream (if desired)
Sweat the onions and leek in the butter with seasoning until soft and sweet, but without colour. Add the potatoes and cook for a few more minutes then add the stock and bring the boil, cook until the poatoes are tender. Whilst still at a rolling boil add your garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, Blitz until totally smooth then pass into bowl sat in ice water. Whisking at regular intervals. This is important as it cools the soup quickly and is necessary to retain the vibrant green colour. Add some cream when you reheat the soup, season to taste with salt and lemon juice.