Mid-summer is high time to buy fresh girolles: a much-loved variety of yellow-orange mushrooms that grow wild in Europe and the U.K., as well as in North America. They begin to appear in late spring, but are continually available through the summer. The ones I picked up at Borough Market last weekend were from Scotland, which is apparently known for producing especially good mushrooms, and these certainly didn’t disappoint.
Girolles (also known as chanterelles) are both beautiful to look at and tasty. They have a meaty taste and the more fragrant ones are characterized by strong hints of pepper (hence their German name, Pfefferlingen). They pair incredibly well with other savory ingredients like bacon, thyme, onions and garlic. Girolles can be costly, but you don’t need all that many if you’re making a side dish like this one, which is a sort of a pilaf done in a southern-coastal-US style (e.g. flavored with pork, onions, celery and bay leaf).
3/4 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
5 pieces of back bacon, cubed
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 medium-sized cloves of garlic, minced
10 stems of thyme, at least (do not skimp, and use fresh leaves rather than dried)
10 stems of flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
2 handfulls of girolles (chanterelles), about 100 grams
1 knob of butter
Sea salt to taste
First prepare the rice: submerge it in warm water for 15 minutes. Then strain and rinse well in cold water until the water runs clear (this is a pain but will prevent the rice from being mushy- which I hate).
Second, heat about 1 tbs of olive oil in a pan, add the cubed bacon until it crisps. Remove half the bacon and place in a bowl. Add the celery and shallots and fry with the remaining bacon until the shallots turn translucent. Then, add the garlic and half the time and parsley, and the bay leaf, and fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). Finally, add the rice and fry over high heat until it begins to turn translucent, stirring constantly to avoid burning (4 min- again a measure against mushiness).
Then, add beef stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil until most of the water has evaporated and you can see holes forming on the surface of the rice. At this point, seal the pot with a lid plus a paper towel or kitchen cloth for 5 minutes on medium heat. Turn the heat off completely but do not remove the lid, letting the rice steam for another 20 minutes.
Five minutes before the rice is ready, heat your butter in a pan. Add the girolles along with the reserved bacon and remaining half of the chopped herbs. Fry on medium heat until the girolles shrivel slightly and become fragrant. Remove off the heat immediately and add salt to taste (don’t add salt before, because the mushrooms to stew themselves).
To serve, take a large spoonful of hot rice and top with a large spoonful of the mushrooms and bacon.