Wednesday, May 15, 2013

fiddlehead risotto

Along with ramps and morels, fiddleheads are part of trifecta of blink-and-you-miss-it wild foods of spring.   I had the chance last Friday to go foraging for fiddleheads with a man who literally wrote the book on fiddleheading, Melvin Nash.  You'll be able to read all about those adventures on the Fredericton Tourism blog later this week.   I had been obsessing about the idea of fiddlehead risotto since I first knew I would end up with a few pounds of fresh fiddleheads.  (Actually I spend about 98% of my time obsessing about risotto.  It's only the ingredients that change.)

I found a great recipe Spring Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Fiddlehead Ferns on the kitchn and
based the dish on that.   I opted not to include the asparagus giving the spotlight completely to the fiddleheads.

serves 4 to 6
3 cups fiddlehead ferns
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, and diced.
2 scallions, white parts only, washed and minced.
1 clove garlic minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
approximately 5 1/2 cups hot vegetable stock
zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Start by cleaning the fiddleheads.  I learned a great technique from Melvin but it involves a stiff breeze and rushing stream.  Assuming your kitchen doesn't have these amenities, use your sink.  Wash the fiddleheads then rub them in a kitchen towel to remove any of the brown paper-like chaff. Trim off any brown ends.  

To blanch the fiddleheads you'll need a pot of boiling water and an ice bath.  Boil the fiddleheads for about 2 minutes and then plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking.  Once they cooled, I chopped the stems and left the furled tops intact.  Set aside.

Simmer your pot of brother, covered, over medium-low heat.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Saute leeks, scallions, and garlic  until tender and almost translucent.

Add rice, and stir until grains are translucent at their edges but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. 

Add wine, and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Add the warm stock by the cupful, stirring until rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid before adding the next cup.

When rice is almost done, stir in the blanched and drained vegetables and the lemon zest. Stir in the last 1/2 cup of stock, then add the cheese and remaining butter.

Roasted fiddleheads: I love roasting vegetables.  I think if there was more roasting and less boiling of vegetables people would not be so averse to eating them.  I topped the risotto with roasted fiddleheads and I thank it really made this dish.  Simply toss the clean fiddleheads with oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

We paired it this with one of my favourite wines - Benjamin Bridge's Nova 7 - perfection!

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