As promised yesterday, I’ve prepared an incredibly simple yet delicious Primal Fiddlehead Fern recipe. I originally planned on making a big dish, with lots of ingredients, but I realized that doing so could weaken the presence of the fern. Since these things are relatively rare, I wanted to make sure they were the stars of the show and didn’t get lost in the melee.
1/2 pound Fiddlehead Ferns
12 oz applewood smoked bacon
1 medium onion
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
Salt and pepper
I started by preparing the ferns as mentioned in yesterday’s post: a 3-4 minute roiling boil blanch followed by a cold water bath. At the same time, I cut up the bacon into 1 inch pieces and started cooking it over medium heat.
Once the bacon is getting nice and crispy and is about five minutes from finishing, saute the ferns in a large tablespoon of butter in another pan over medium-high heat. Once the bacon’s done and the ferns have been cooking for three minutes, toss in another dollop of butter and add the garlic (chopped). At this point, remove the bacon, pour out about 2/3 of the rendered fat into a container for later use, and then toss the chopped onion in the rest of the bacon fat over high heat.
Watch this carefully, as the onions will burn quickly. Keep stirring the onions while watching the ferns and garlic. When the garlic is starting to brown, pour in the wine and let it reduce. The onions should be done by now so go ahead and take them out before they burn. As the wine reduces, you may want to add a bit more butter as a thickener.
Plate the ferns and top with salt, pepper, bacon, and onions. It’s a pretty filling dish by itself, or you could serve it alongside a piece of grilled meat, like a lamb leg steak.
If you can’t find Fiddlehead Ferns or would rather not fork over the money (I think you can count me in that boat as long as they’re $20 out here), you can substitute chopped asparagus spears and leave everything else the same. If you live near a local fern source, you really have no excuse not to try it out. It’s a really easy recipe that actually looks quite professional – I usually just go for function over form when it comes to cooking, but the mix of colors was a nice surprise.
The best thing about this is that it’s relatively wide open for additions or subtractions. I can imagine this dish going well with some crushed red chile pepper for heat, or with some grated aged Gouda to add a sharp bite to the white wine reduction. Fresh herbs like thyme or parsley might help, too. If you do decide to try this recipe, let us know if you make any alterations and how it turns out!
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