Carqueja Rice with Gorse, by Liz Knight

IN

Friend and Forager, Liz Knight shares her rice recipe using gorse stems as the stock from her new book, ‘Forage: Wild Plants to Gather and Eat’.

Gorse, a beautiful evergreen shrub which produces bright yellow petals during the first signs of Spring. The small petals are in flower most of the year but are at their peak from March till May in the UK. At this time, their sweet, delicate coconut aroma is the most potent and can me smelled from miles away.

Gorse is one of the 22 botanicals hand-picked every year and distilled to make The Botanist. It’s also the first botanical our in-house forager, James collects during his picking season. The subtle coconut aroma adds to the complex and floral essence of The Botanist, and the flowers can also be used to create syrups and cocktails to compliment our gin. With coconuts being rather impossible to come by locally, gorse flowers are an exciting flavour to play with.

More often than not, use of this plant stops at the flower petals. Despite its historical uses, the rest of the large shrub is often left rejected and unused. However our friend and forager, Liz Knight’s rice recipe from her new book ‘Forage: Wild Plants to Gather and Eat’, involves using whole gorse stems, spikes and all;

“In the Iberian region of the Mediterranean, gorse flowers and young shoots are dried for teas, petals are distilled into gins and whole stems used to as herbs to flavour roast meats, fish and vegetables. In Portugal, stems of gorse are dried and infused into stocks to season game meats such as rabbit or hare. Carqueja rice is traditionally served with chicken but is equally delicious with grilled vegetables or bean stews.”

Liz has kindly shared her recipe below. This traditional Iberian dish if typically served with chicken, but works equally well with grilled vegetables or as a side dish. Here’s what you’ll need:

2 x 20cm lengths of dried gorse stems, gathered in flower
1 large onion, finely shopped
2 garlic cloves
olive oil or lard for frying
200g short grain rice, such as arborio
salt

1. Put the gorse stems in a jar with 1 litre of hot water and leave to infuse for at least 3 hours overnight.
2. The next day, sweat the onion and garlic in a wide frying pan with a little olive oil or lard, then add the rice and cook until it is translucent.
3. Slowly add the gorse-infused water and stir, then cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

Recipes taken from FORAGE: Wild Plants To Gather, Cook and Eat by Liz Knight, illustrated by Rachel Pedder-Smith and published by Laurence King at £19.99. Out now available from Waterstones.

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