Wild Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms

With the onset of autumn, some people get a little depressed or despondent at the change of weather and the end of the summer fruits and vegetables. I am always the opposite as I don’t mind a little cooler weather and love the produce available at this time of year.  We also see great quality seafood come on line as the water temperatures cool, which is great for shellfish like oysters and mussels, but the weather can make the catching of the fish a little more of a challenge!


My personal favourite ingredient this time of year would have to be wild mushrooms. Since relocating to North East Victoria four years ago, foraging for Saffron Milk Caps, Slippery Jacks or Grey Ghosts has been a highlight of autumn for me. So providing that the gods look down kindly on us with enough rain, expect to see all of the above mushrooms appearing on the the menu at Terrace Restaurant in the next couple of months in a variety of dishes. 

 

Risotto of Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms, Tuscan Kale and Goats Cheese

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter

Olive Oil for frying

400g Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms. Keep whole if very small or slice into 1cm pieces

200g Tuscan Kale roughly chopped

1 lemon

1.25L of liquid, mix equal parts fresh chicken stock with water, use vegetable stock if you're vegetarian

1 large onion finely chopped

3 garlic cloves finely sliced

300g risotto rice (Vialone Nano or Carnaroli Superfino)

80ml dry white wine

Small bunch each of tarragon and basil

100g soft goats cheese, broken into chunks

60g blanched hazelnuts

Grated Grana Padano or Reggiano Parmesan cheese

Extra olive oil to serve

 

Method

1. Melt 50g of the butter and a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. When the butter foams, add the mushrooms, making sure they're spread out (cook in batches if the pan is crowded). Season, then cook on one side for 2-3 minutes without moving them until the undersides are deep golden. Repeat on the other side and set aside in a mixing bowl once they are all cooked. 

2. Remove the drying pan from the heat and wipe out carefully with paper towel. Put the frying pan and add a good glug of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the kale and fry over a medium heat until almost tender. Add the juice of half a lemon, then cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add to the mushrooms.

3. Put the stock in a saucepan and heat over a medium-low heat, it should be steaming, not boiling. Meanwhile, wipe the frying pan clean, then add the remaining butter and melt over a low to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 6-8 minutes until softened and translucent, stirring now and then.

4. Increase the heat under the frying pan to medium, then add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes until it has an even sheen. Add the wine and stir until absorbed. Add a ladleful of the stock and stir gently until absorbed. 

5. Keep adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan and around the inside to make sure the rice cooks evenly. You don't need to stand over the risotto, but give it a few stirs between each ladleful, making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. 

6. When all the stock has been used up, the rice is just tender and the consistency is as it should be, add the zest and the remaining juice of the lemon and season well with salt and pepper. Chop most of the herbs (pick the leaves of the rest and set aside), then add to the risotto with the mushroom and chard mixture. Stir gently, giving everything enough time to warm through. Gently mix in the remaining herbs and the goat's cheese, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Scatter over the toasted nuts. Serve sprinkled with grated cheese and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, if you like. 

 

The complex flavours and textures of this risotto are a wonderful match for the 2013 All Saints Estate Family Cellar Marsanne, available here