Ramping Up Spring Flavors
While I've enjoyed eating mostly local meat this winter, I'm very excited to see fresh early spring foods at the farmer's market. My new favorite are ramps, which are a tiny wild leek with a tiny season. They can be hard to find, but in Manhattan Union Square Market has then for $3 a bunch. Milder than most other members of the allium family, ramps taste a little to me like a more savory and succulent version of garlic. Ramps are all flavor with none of garlic's harsh tones. The Spotted Pig does an excellent braise of them with rabbit, but they work well with nearly any meat and are simple to cook.
Here I drew on asparagus, another extremely delicious early-spring vegetable that has the magical ability to become crispy and absorb the flavors of the fat it is cooked with. That meat was my farmer friend's homemade pancetta, which was made with the best black peppercorns I have ever tasted. I sauteed the asparagus and pancetta in The Piggery's lard, then added the finely sliced white parts of the ramps. Once the asparagus was browned, I added some local wine for a splash of acidity, but you can add lemon juice or some good vinegar. Then I added the sliced green leaf tops of the ramps with a smattering of herbs grown on my windowsill. When everything looked nice and tender, I put it in a bowl and topped with ghee and sea salt. If you do dairy this would have been excellent with a good shaved cheese.
The whole dish is amazing- brown crispy asparagus flavored with the smoked pancetta, which was also crispy and melted in my mouth. The ramps added a whole new dimension of savory flavor to an already wonderful dish. Go get them before they are gone! It's not like you can buy them imported from Peru in December.
100% Local. 100% Delicious.
BTW if you are looking for paleo-friendly eats in NYC, don't forget to check out my new paleo map. It's in beta, so contact me if you have any additions.