Saturday, May 16, 2009
Fiddleheads - their own posting this time around
Fiddlehead Ferns with Brown Butter and Pancetta
One of the special treats of spring are fiddlehead ferns, which grow wild along mossy stream banks. They are simply the immature leaf fronds of ostrich fern plants that have not yet opened. Fern leaves are poisonous once they open and can only be enjoyed in this early stage, when they taste like a cross between artichokes and asparagus.
After a fiddlehead is removed from the stalk, the cut end starts to turn brown. Be sure to trim back the stem (about 1/4 inch) to the healthy green section before cooking.
3 pounds fiddle head ferns, trimmed and washed
1/4 lb chopped pancetta
6 tablespoons brown butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly nutmeg
1. In a large pot bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Drop the fiddleheads into the pot and cook for 1 minute. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then submerge in the ice water until completely cool. Let the fiddleheads drain well in a colander and wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to dry.
2. Slowly brown butter in a large skillet. Bring up to higher temperature and cook chopped pancetta.
3.Heat for a minute or two until they are warm, then divide the fiddleheads among the plates. Serve at once as a side dish or on Chinese soup spoons as an appetizer.
Fiddleheads are available at DeLuca's on Portage.