Monday, April 6, 2009

Allium tricoccum: Spring is Here

On the east coast, for the next couple of weeks, we get a treat: ramps, the first green vegetable of the growing season are the temperamental, wild member of the allium family (garlic, onions, shallots), usually described as a cross between leeks and garlic. Before moving to New York, I never ate a ramp. They only grow on the east coast, and unfortunately, they're an endangered species in Quebec, where I went to college.

east coast delicacy

I'm glad I'm eating them now. They're beautiful, and delicious – much more so than the garlic-leek comparison can express. They also come quite dirty and are relatively expensive thanks to excessive demand, a short growing season, and the inevitable mania that signals the end of winter. Look for Rick Bishop from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket. He's the the go-to guy for ramps, usually standing in front of a wooden placard signed, with recipes, from celebrated chefs from around the city.

To clean your ramp, first give it a preliminary bath in cold water to wash away the majority of the dirt. Then, cut off the root-end with a pairing knife, like you would a scallion. Slide off the slimy outer layer that surrounds the bottom of the stock, and finally submerse the whole plant in cold water again, taking care not to leave any dirt in the folds of the top leafs.

At this point, depending on how you want to cook your ramps, you may want to section off the leafy green top from the root end, reserving for use like you would a spring onion. I used my ramps this way for a pasta dish:

Linguine with Ramps, Cockles and Calabrian Chiles

I sauteed the ramp roots with with the cockles and chiles in white wine, then added the pasta and folded in the leafs off the heat.

Alternatively you can leave the plant intact and saute, or ever better, grill them whole, like I did here.

Charred Ramps and Pickled Pork

Incidentally, the pork shoulder I pickled turned out to be unexpectedly delicious sliced thinly across the grain and charred on a white-hot grill.

No comments:

Post a Comment