The season’s short, but the rewards are bountiful, if you can find them. If you didnt’ read the first blog post about ramps, it’s right here. It’s more or less about finding ways to preserve the flavor of this delicious little bulb for a few extra weeks out of the year.

Today, it’s cold. I have the day off, and for the most part, I’m staying indoors, which means that I’m planning on experimenting a bit in the kitchen. I’ve had this idea in my head about ramp kimchi for a long time. Although it smells like the inside of an old fishing trawler, I’ve always liked it. After searching out a couple of different recipes, though, I can’t make it today. Still, I have the hankering to make something delicious with the few bunches that I have. So far this year, I’ve sauteed them and served them over pasta, and for the second recipe, I’m going to pickle them with a straightforward brine, along with a couple of bunches of french carrots that are occupying my fridge.

Here’s a quick recipe:

2-3 bunches of Ramps

2 bunches thin french carrots

Kosher salt for blanching

Trim the root end and leaves from the ramps. Reserve the leaves for a second recipe. Remove the greens from the carrots and save for later. Trim carrots into rounds, or on the diagonal for better flavor absorption.
Get a large pot of water on the stove, and bring to a boil. Add Kosher salt, and blanch carrots until half tender, about four to five minutes. Blanch ramps for about 30 seconds. Shock in an ice bath.

 

For the brine:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon pink peppercorns (white also works

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon red pepper or cayenne

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon salt

Combine the  water, sugar, salt, and vinegar in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add spices, and let simmer for a minute or two.

Now, drain and pat ramps and carrots dry. Put them in a mason jar or airtight container, and pour hot brining liquid over them. Cover, throw in the fridge, and let rest.

Congratulations! You’ve made pickled ramps! The flavor will mature over time, and you’ll have anywhere from two weeks to a couple of months to eat them as they stare at you every time you open the door to the fridge. Use them in salads, with omelettes, or for any brunch related item you happen to want to make (Did somebody say Bloody Mary?). They also make an excellent piquant addition to a duck breast, roasted chicken, or any meat with a little bit of uniqueness to it. Lastly, if you do a charcuterie plate, they go really well with cheese, cured meats, and other delicious nuts and pickles.

Now, on to the leaves.

I have a nice olive oil here, and it’s not the best match for doing a confit to preserve it, as it’s extremely grassy, and more of a finishing oil, not meant to be heated. However, I do have butter. Lots of butter.

Into the pot they go. This is what I’ve decided to do. Take your trimmed ramp leaves, throw them in a pan with one stick or more of melted butter over the lowest setting, and let them sweat for 20-30 minutes. In this time, your kitchen will fill with the greatest smell you could ever hope for. When it’s time and the leaves have wilted and achieved maximum butter absorption, remove them, squeegeeing the excess butter back into the pan. If you don’t have a ramp squeegee, don’t worry. Use your fingers. It’s fine.
Take the resulting butter, and skim the milk solids off the top. Reserve the clarified ramp butter for a delicious sauteeing medium for shrimp scampi or chicken. If you don’t eat meat, put it in a plastic container in the fridge, wait for it to set, and use it to add flavor to risottos, as a wash for homemade bruschetta or croutons, or simply eat it out of the jar.

I do have some shrimp. I have some polenta that I can slice and fry, and I have a nice new ceramic nonstick pan that I hope will be the answer to my occasional problems with crusty burned bits on my pan. Every once in a while, stuff like that happens, but that’s a different story for a different day.

 

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