Zippity-Doo-Dah – the Joy of Foraging

April weather doesn’t come much better than last weekend. Indoor jobs were abandoned and we took to the great outdoors cois Deirge. There were potato drills to be earthed up and foraging to be done for wild garlic. We walked across fields of dandelion flowers (and their leaves….’fraid the Salade de Pissenlits will have to wait for another day!)

Wild Garlic

The scent found us first, a mild, earthy, garlicky note on the gentle breeze. Once under the trees, there was wild garlic as far as the eye could see. It grows in old, uninterrupted mixed deciduous woodland before the tree canopy fills in and blocks its light source. You need to be sure you’re picking wild garlic, not Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous.

We picked plenty. Time stood still. Eckhart Tolle would have approved…we were in the NOW.

Basket of Wild Garlic leaves and flowers

Later on we sat down to a dinner of Wild Garlic Risotto made all the nicer by a carton of home made chicken stock from the freezer.

Ingredients

– 100g bacon lardons
– 1 litre chicken stock
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1 medium onion, finely chopped
– 350g risotto rice
– 100ml dry vermouth or white wine
– 4 big handfuls of wild garlic leaves (torn into bits)
– 25g Parmesan, grated
– salt and pepper.

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Preparation
Heat a shallow saucepan or risotto pan. Add the bacon and cook over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes until it is starting to ooze and brown. Meanwhile, heat the stock in another pan and keep at a very gentle simmer.
Remove the lardons when cooked and add 1 tbsp butter to the pan, then throw in the onion. Cook for about five minutes until soft. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until it has absorbed all the butter and is beginning to stick. At this point, pour in the vermouth, stirring all the time. Add the lardons back into the risotto. Next, add a ladleful of the hot stock and cook until it has been absorbed. Carry on adding stock and stirring until it has thickened and the rice is just al dente. Depending on your rice, pan and cooker, it should take about 20 minutes from the moment you add the vermouth. Watch it carefully towards the end- you don’t want rice porridge.
When the risotto is cooked, stir in the wild garlic, cheese and remaining butter. Check the seasoning, cover and rest for 5 minutes. Divide into 4 warmed bowls, and finish with a scattering of garlic flowers, if you like.

Notes-
Risotto requires constant stirring from start to finish. Devote the twenty minutes to it and it will reward you. From your position at the cooker, wooden spoon in hand, you can request your choice of music, the setting of the table, a nice glass of chilled white wine….in fact, all sorts of favours.  Anyone who has ever sat down to a dish of risotto at home will happily do the cook’s bidding for an encore.
And, with all those Spring Greens in it, it’s SOOOOOOO good for you.

Result
It was delicious! Iníon a trí took hers off to eat in front of the TV, and since she had just come in from camogie practice, returned for second helpings.

The moon rose, the first full moon after the spring equinox, dictating the timing of Easter.

Zippity-doo-dah, Zippity-aye
My oh my what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine heading my way
Zippity-doo-dah, Zippity-aye

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About haysparks

Viewing the world, the human condition, our history, evolution and health through the prism of food.
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2 Responses to Zippity-Doo-Dah – the Joy of Foraging

  1. Ailbhe says:

    Great idea! Only thing I’ve ever done with wild garlic is Pesto, you should give that a try too!

  2. Rob says:

    Wild Garlic, Allium tricoccumis, is known in the US as “Ramps:” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_tricoccum
    In California, Ramps are imported from more humid locations so are very expensive to buy. You have a gold mine under that tree – if you could move it!

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