As someone who’s set to inherit the British royal throne, you’d expect Prince Charles to prefer only the finer things in life — especially when it comes to food. It turns out, he’s a bigger fan of foraging his own backyard for ingredients.
Former royal chef Darren McGrady dishes on one of the Prince of Wales’ favorite meals, wild mushroom risotto with lamb, in a recent video for Delish. He also describes the royal as a “foodie” and someone who was ahead of the curve when it came to filling the palace kitchens with organic options. “He was into organic farming 30 years ago, before it was even invented, I think,” McGrady claims.
Charles began maintaining organic gardens at his Highgrove House back in 1980. Today, it’s still packed with plenty of fresh produce, plus more than 200 chickens roaming around and laying about 4,200 eggs each year. That’s obviously a bit more than any royal could consume on their own, but Charles is happy to share. Tons of fruits, veggies, eggs, and other items are sold at the estate’s shop, with all proceeds going to the prince’s charity fund. (Psst: The garden’s online store does international shipping, but only for non-perishable items, of course.)
According to McGrady, Charles’ favorite freshly grown ingredient is actually found outside of the garden: wild mushrooms. He remembers the prince bringing an expert to the family’s Balmoral castle in Scotland to teach a team of chefs where the best mushrooms could be found on the grounds. “They brought back an abundance of the most amazing chanterelles and ceps [porcini] — incredible,” the chef says. McGrady also reveals a trick we can all use for helping fresh mushrooms last their longest: “The whole day was spent sautéing them off in a little butter and tarragon, then freezing them to use through the year.”
McGrady uses dried mushrooms in the video below while creating one of Charles’ most-loved dishes, but we’re sure the stock of frozen ones came in handy for plenty of other recipes during his time in the royal kitchens.
Take a look to hear more stories about McGrady’s time with the royal family — including an embarrassing first encounter with Charles — and see how you can whip up the chef’s recipe for wild mushroom risotto with lamb:
We’d love to dig into this delightfully creamy, earthy, and rustic meal any time!