Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fiddlehead Sauté With Shallots and Bacon

This is usually the time of year when Kitchen Fiddler is woefully neglected because the rest of my life goes haywire.  April and May are notoriously busy months for freelance musicians in NYC, and this year is no exception for most of my waking hours are spent with a violin in hand.  (Forget blogging, I'm scrambling to eat proper meals and sleep six hours at night!)  However, today was blissfully free with no daytime commitments, and as I wandered around my neighborhood enjoying the sunshine this morning, I picked up these adorable fiddlehead ferns.  I couldn’t wait to make this easy Fiddlehead Sauté With Shallots and Bacon for lunch, and it was so delightful that I immediately hopped back on my blog to share it with all of you.

Fiddlehead ferns are aptly named since they clearly resemble the scroll of a violin.  My own fiddle is more than happy to provide a visual comparison!

These coiled bright green beauties have a short window of availability in the spring, so now is the time to snap them up.  Their taste reminds me a bit of asparagus tips, and they are delicious when simply blanched and sautéed with a bit of butter or olive oil and brightened with lemon and some snipped fresh herbs.

But today feels celebratory, between the beautiful spring light and the luxury of time to cook a proper lunch before enjoying it at my own table.  In that spirit of celebration, I amped up the fiddlehead sauté  with a little bacon this afternoon, since bacon always lends a festive note to any dish.  Accompany the fiddleheads with a chilled glass of your favorite Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp rosé, cue "When The Sun Comes Out", and you have a recipe for a blissful springtime meal.

Look for fiddlehead ferns that are bright green and tightly coiled.  You’ll want to wash them well, rubbing the papery bits off the ferns.  They’re expensive but a genuine springtime treat.

3 cups fiddlehead ferns
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Trim the ends off the fiddleheads.  Rinse thoroughly in several changes of cold water, until the water is clear. 

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat.  As the water heats, fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and several ice cubes and have nearby.  When the water is near boiling, add a good tablespoon of salt to the water and let it get to a good rolling boil. 

Blanch the fiddleheads for 4 minutes in the boiling water, then transfer them to the prepared ice bath with a slotted spoon.  This will help them retain their bright green color.  Remove the fiddleheads from the ice bath and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat till it shimmers.  Add the diced bacon and shallot rings and cook, stirring constantly.  After 3 minutes, add the fiddleheads to the pan and cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until both the bacon and fiddleheads are golden brown.  Taste one of the fiddleheads—they should be tender-crisp but not bitter, but take care not to overcook them or else they’ll become mealy.  Remove from heat, stir in the red wine vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide between plates and serve immediately.

Makes 2 larger servings or 4 smaller servings as a side dish. 

1 comment:

Lorra said...

Congratulations on getting a beautiful spring day off!
They look scrumptious and wil try some myself this weekend. Lorra