It's wild garlic time. We get ours from the Pimlico Road Farmer's Market on Pimlico Green. £1.50 a bunch. I like this time of the year; when the boredom and horror of steely grey Feburary suddenly turns into the promise of a raw Spring. The Boat Race...The Grand National...Easter...Daffodils...Chocolate Eggs...Hot Cross Buns. And the whiff of raw garlic in the hedgerows. A few years ago, I was driving along a lane in South Oxfordshire and suddenly, there it was- a distinctive whiff of garlic coming from the grassy verge.
I'm very keen on a simple risotto made from English wild garlic. You'll find that the taste of wild garlic is much more subtle than the standard stuff, so dismiss any worries about any overpowering garlicky tastes. By the way, the look of wild garlic is a bit different too: it comes in the form of slightly limp, green leaves (not entirely unlike spinach) and you use these chopped leaves, rather than the bulb. You'll find that the wild garlic will keep if you stick it into a vase of water. I've just posted two helpful videos on The Greasy Spoon page on Facebook: they'll tell you all about wild garlic; how to find it and how to use it.
Here's how I make a delicious wild garlic risotto: I chop up a small onion and sauté it in hot butter, before adding Carnaroli rice (allowing the rice to soak up the hot butter). Ladle in a small quantity of hot, steaming vegetable stock and stir like mad, until the rice has absorbed the stock.
Carry on ladelling in the hot stock until the Carnaroli rice is ready: this is the art of risotto making. You want the rice grains to remain firm (with a "bite") yet, at the same time, to be bound up in a creamy, starchy, slightly soupy liquid. It might take about half an hour to make it properly. I find that it always takes longer to make than recipe books suggest.
And do beat the rice like mad- as this releases the starch from the grains. I'm currently in favour of Carnaroli rice: I find that this makes a slightly creamier risotto, although of course, arborio rice would be fine too.
Anyway, back to the recipe. About ten minutes from the end, I add the chopped up wild garlic. Wild garlic has a very subtle taste, so I would recommend that you add quite a bit of the stuff: the risotto can certainly take it. I was also keen on the idea of turning the risotto a green colour- this will happen if you add enough. Check the seasoning and when you reckon the risotto's ready, add a small dash of white wine. This will stop the risotto from cooking.
Finish it off with a small helping of grated Parmesan- or indeed, a British cheese. This is Anglo-Italian food at its best.
And last, and certainly not least, I have started writing for The Dabbler. Some of you may know this site- it's an excellent (and slightly quirky) Culture Blog, well worth subscribing too. I was amazed to discover that I had won a Dabbler prize- a bottle of Ten Year Old Single Malt Glengoyne Whisky...