Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fried Eggs, Bacon and Ramps!

     Fried Eggs, bacon and what?  They look like scallions, so why are you calling them ramps?  Because they are ramps...  More on that in a minute.  My family is aware that I can do some crazy things in order to procure a certain ingredient.  Normally, it entails scouring the Internet or trying to get friends to send me certain products.  Who cares that the five jars of French mayonnaise only cost about $5 and cost about $35 to ship?  I gotta have that mayo!

     I first learned about ramps about a year ago, while walking on my treadmill binge watching the PBS show, "Chef and the Farmer."  The show chronicles the life of a chef in rural North Carolina.  While I am normally not into reality tv, I find this show a bit addicting but I am learning something.  On one episode, the chef travels to Tennessee where she accompanies the chef from the famed Blackberry Farms as he searches for ramps.  They dig up a bunch and then have an impromptu ramp party on the hillside.

     So, you are still wondering...what are ramps?  Evidently, they are related to leeks and shallots. Some people call them wild leeks.  They only grow wild, along hillsides and only for a short period of time in the Spring.    The minute it gets hot, they disappear.  Their growing season is only about three weeks.  Wow, now that is a seasonal crop!

     A bit more research and I learned that ramps grow quite well in Western Pennsylvania.  In fact, there are several Ramp Festivals that take place in April and May.  Unfortunately, I could not make it to any of them but perhaps that is an adventure for next year.  Ramp ice cream, anyone?

      Earlier this month at a local restaurant, I finally had my first taste of ramps.  The chef had wrapped the leaves around a piece of fish...and from there I cannot remember the rest of the dish.  It was tasty but frankly, I wasn't sure it deserved the hype.  Then last week, I received an email from Penn's Corner Farm Alliance indicating that they had ramps.  Ok, this must be a sign.  I have to try it.

     So I put in an order and here is where it gets a bit crazy.  On Monday evening, I take Dear Daughter to swim practice and then head the car in the direction of Pittsburgh.  Thirty-five minutes later, I park in front of the Children's Museum, enter the building and find my contact in the cafeteria.  He crosses off my name on the list and hands me my box of produce.  I did figure that if I was going to drive all that way, I should get more than just ramps.  I am not that crazy.  Then I drive the now forty-five minutes (due to rush hour traffic) back to the pool and pick up my daughter as if nothing had ever happened.

     Here are my ramps.  

     Now what to do with them.  I found that you can substitute the bulbs for garlic or use the leaves to make a pesto but that seemed to ordinary.  I wanted them to be the star of the show.  Then I came across this recipe and I knew it was the one!  Since it had bacon in it...I couldn't go wrong!  Dear daughter loved it and I managed to save a few ramps to make a great escabeche - recipe to follow tomorrow.  For now...

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Fried Eggs, Bacon and Ramps
From Serious Eats

This serves two people but you can easily increase the ingredients to serve as many as you want.

2 large eggs
3 strips high quality bacon
6 ramps
1/2 cup water
2T butter

Cut the bacon crosswise into lardons, place in a skillet with the water and cook until the fat has rendered, the water has evaporated and the lardons are crisp.  Remove the bacon to bowl.  Drain all but one tablespoon of the fat and add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan.  Add the ramps and season with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1-2 minutes until the ramp leaves have wilted.  Remove to the bowl with the bacon.

Fry the eggs in the same skillet.  Plate the cooked egg, scatter bacon and ramps around it and spoon some of the butter mixture over the top.


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