GIROLLES are one of the things that for me just sum up the taste of summer.
Girolles, or golden chanterelles as they are also sometimes known, are a wonderful type of edible mushroom that can be identified by their distinctive orange or yellow colour, meaty texture and funnel-shaped cap.
Although quite light and delicate, the flavour you get from girolles is outstanding – almost fruity and quite peppery. The best way to enjoy them is very simply so you can really taste the natural flavour of this wonderful ingredient. Sautéed girolles on toast is one of my favourite ways to eat mushrooms – it’s an easy recipe but a great way to make the most of their delicious flavour. I always remember eating them that way when we visited my nana’s house when I was younger. The flavours and simplicity of the delightful dish always take me back to those fond memories.
The aroma you get from girolles is also very distinctive. The scent is sometimes likened to fresh apricots but it can be very earthy and woody – I always think that they just smell of where you will find them in nature. They usually grow in beech or birch woods. They also tend to grow in circles so if you find one you can usually stumble upon quite a collection nearby.
I not only love eating these glorious little treasures, I also enjoy going out foraging for mushrooms in summer. They tend to grow around the same place every year which has meant we’ve been able to find some fantastic spots over the years. We’ve just recently been on our first mushroom hunt of the year with our boys and it was such a fantastic way to spend a day. Their faces just lit up when they discovered the girolles and then got to pop them in our mushroom basket to take home and enjoy.
The best time to forage for mushrooms is after a rainy spell followed by a day or two of sunshine, so the recent weather has meant it’s looking to be a pretty good season so far. Make sure you’re always completely confident about what you’re picking. I really wouldn’t recommend you take any chances. Take a guide with you if you’re unsure, and don’t take any risks. There are lots of organised foraging trips around Scotland led by experts. This can often be a good place to start.
Once you’ve either picked or bought your mushrooms, make sure you take the same care when you’re preparing them. Wash them as little as possible and clean and trim them very carefully. If you really look after them, the end result will always be worth it.
RISOTTO WITH GARLIC, GIROLLES, PARSLEY AND CRISPY PARMA HAM
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g risotto rice
100ml white wine
800ml chicken stock
olive oil for cooking
8 slices of Parma ham
250g girolles, cleaned
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
100g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra shavings to serve
Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a saucepan and keep it at a low simmer.
In another heavy-based saucepan, melt 50g of the butter, add the onion and sweat for three to four minutes to soften without colouring. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the butter. Cook for one minute, then pour in the white wine and let bubble to reduce right down.
Now start adding the stock, a ladleful (50–100ml) at a time, stirring and allowing each addition to be fully absorbed before adding the next. Continue to add the stock in this way until the rice is al dente (cooked but with a slight bite); this will take 15–17 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Fry the Parma ham in batches as necessary until crispy; remove and set aside.
Heat a little more oil in the pan and add the girolles with some seasoning. Cook over a medium-high heat for one to two minutes until tender; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain the liquid from the pan into the risotto.
Wipe the frying pan clean, add a little more oil and sauté the chopped garlic for a minute. Remove from the heat, add the crispy Parma ham slices, girolles and chopped parsley and set aside, ready for serving.
Once the risotto is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add the grated Parmesan and remaining 50g butter, in pieces, and fork through.
Divide the risotto among warm serving bowls and top with the girolles, crispy Parma ham, parsley and garlic. Finish with a few shavings of Parmesan.
SCOTTISH GIROLLES ON TOAST WITH POACHED EGGS AND CHORIZO
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
300g girolles, cooked
10 flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 sprigs of thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
100g chorizo, cut into thin strips
4 slices of thick crusty bread
100ml white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
To prepare the mushrooms
Heat a frying pan and add the vegetable oil. Add the girolles and cook them until golden. Then add the parsley, thyme, chives, shallots and one finely sliced garlic clove. Lastly mix in the chorizo and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, grill the bread till crisp and rub with the other garlic clove, cut in half. Drizzle with oil.
To poach the eggs
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the vinegar and stir to create a whirlpool effect. Crack each egg into a separate cup, then pour the eggs into the water and poach for about three minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain well.