Savannah, GA; November 24, 2018: Until very recently, it was illegal in South Carolina to sell anything from the wild except for highly regulated seafood. No game, no wild mushrooms, no fresh water fish. As interest in foraged foods has grown regulations throughout the country have relaxed. In the fall of 2014, a small group of South Carolina residents who are “certified mushroom experts” have been allowed to sell as many as 20 kinds of mushrooms that can be foraged in the state. The experts had to first graduate from a new program created after the laws were updated, allowing them to sell wild mushrooms harvested in-state.
I have my own secret spots in South Carolina where I am assured of finding them in the late spring and early fall after a rain. I make pasta dishes, turnovers, pâtés, and soups as well as this risotto, which is very popular dish as both a side dish and – especially for vegetarians – a main course.
I don’t tell folks where my sites are. There are over 3000 varieties of mushrooms that grow in South Carolina, and while some, like these chanterelles are edible (and delicious!), some can make you very sick. Some can kill you. NEVER eat a mushroom from the wild unless you are absolutely sure of its identity and edibility.
With the warm weather and rains of late, I was able to forage one last batch. Just enough for two.
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 or 2 shallots, minced
2 cups cleaned, small chanterelles or larger ones diced
7/8 cup Arborio rice
3 cups beef, veal, chicken or vegetarian stock
3/8 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup finely grated, but not packed, Parmigiano Regianno, divided
Melt half the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Add the shallots and chanterelles and cook slowly until the shallot is very soft. Add the rice and turn up the heat to medium, stirring constantly and sautéing the rice until it is slightly toasted, about five minutes or until the rice begins to look opaque. Do not let the rice stick to the pan or burn. Add a ladle of stock to the rice and continue stirring constantly until the liquid is almost absorbed. Add more stock and continue stirring and adding more liquid, including the wine, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost cooked al dente, like pasta.It should take about 25 minutes. The mixture should be creamy, not soupy. Stir in the remaining butter and half the cheese, cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 4 or 5 minutes before serving, with the remaining parmesan on the side. Let diners season to taste with black pepper.