We have seen the daffodils come and go, the tulips are blooming and the lilac bushes are covered in buds just waiting to burst open and perfume the air. Do you know what that means? That’s right! Spring is here and with it comes some super taste treats. One culinary delight I look forward to every year is ramps also known as wild leeks or onions.
Like fashion, food is trendy and it appears this pungent vegetable has become quite popular among chefs and is now making its appearance on menus across the nation. Annually, my husband tramps the woods in search of this cousin to the scallion and digs up a bucket full. If you are not so motivated they can be found at Farmers Markets and in some produce departments. You must act quickly though, as they are available for just a short period of time.
Let’s talk about how to use them. Although a bit stronger tasting than a leek, scallion or onion, they can be used as a substitute in any recipe calling for these. Since discovering them 14 years ago I have collected numerous recipes where they are featured. One that sends my husband into the woods in anticipation marries roasted chicken, potatoes and ramps with a white wine sauce. This is probably my most favorite of all the recipes I have tried and I know you are going to love it!
Roasted Chicken w/ Ramps and Potatoes Serves 4
3/4 lb. ramps
1 chicken (about 3-31/2 lb), cut up
1 lb small red potatoes or fingerlings, halved
2 ½ T extra virgin olive oil
½ c dry white wine
1 c chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Trim off roots from ramps and slip off outer skin from bulbs, if loose. Cut off and reserve leaves, leaving white bulb attached to slender pink stems. Put leaves and bulbs in separate bowls.
- Rinse chicken and pat dry. Put in a flameproof large shallow roasting pan, without crowding, and surround with potatoes. Drizzle with 2 T oil and toss to coat evenly. Arrange chicken skin side up and potatoes cut side down. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in upper 1/3 of oven for 20 minutes.
- Toss bulbs with remaining ½ T of oil and season with salt. Scatter bulbs around chicken and roast mixture until breast pieces are cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Transfer breasts pieces to heated platter and keep warm. Roast remaining chicken and vegetables 5- 10 minutes more or until cooked through. Transfer to platter and keep warm by loosely covering with foil. (If crisper skins are desired, place chicken only under hot broiler, skin sides up for about 2 minutes).
- Pour off fat from roasting pan and straddle pan across two burners. Add wine and deglaze by cooking over high heat, scraping off brown bits. Boil wine until it is reduced to about ¼ c. Add stock and bring to boil again. When sauce boils add ramp leaves and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes. Remove with tongs and put on platter with chicken and potatoes. Boil pan juices until they are reduced to about ½ c. Pour over chicken (recommend serving on a large platter that is deep in the center to contain the sauce, arrange potatoes, and ramps decoratively around the sides with chicken in the center). Serve immediately.
If this recipe tempts your palate, try using this versatile vegetable is soups, stews or other favorite recipes. Your creativity will be well rewarded. Looking for some more ideas? Check my blog post, Ramp It Up/The Wild Onion posted April 17, 2012. I feel compelled to share information about this culinary treat available for a brief window in the Spring. Whether you dig your own or buy them at the market, be prepared, this may be the beginning of an annual love affair.
Until we meet again, remember to always add the secret ingredient of your love to any dish you make. You will be rewarded two-fold and your food will taste even more delicious! Goodby for now from Queen Jeanne, spreading love, one dish at a time.