I have to admit that this past Friday was my first experience with fiddleheads. For years I had imagined what they tasted like. An earthy asparagus, I told myself. Or perhaps a tougher, more-bodied spinach. Being back in Maine in May and cooking for myself, the forces finally aligned and it was time. I bought a bag at Fresh Off The Farm on my way home and voila.
Well, actually, I had been searching for recipes earlier that day. I didn't know how to cook the squirrelly plants! I immediately assumed I could saut` them in butter and garlic (because when does that ever make anything taste bad?). But I stumbled upon a recipe by Emeril Lagasse on foodnetwork.com that inspired me: fiddlehead and morel ragout
So, as I usually do with recipes, I adapted a bit. I added a breaded pork chop underneath the sauce, crusty bread baked in the oven with butter, and a crisp white wine to go with it all. My fiddlehead debut was delicious! Thanks, Emeril! (By the way, it is rumored that Emeril used to be the chef at the Sheraton in South Portland right before his career took off.)
Here's a brief synopsis: to make the ragout, blanch the fiddleheads (as many as you want - I used about a half a pound) for a minute or two in salted, boiling water before removing them to an ice bath. Mince two shallots and saut` with a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Let the shallots soften for a few minutes, then add some minced garlic, chopped mushrooms, and a few sprigs of thyme. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Add about three quarters of a cup of chicken stock and let it cook down for a few minutes until it has thickened. Add a half a cup of heavy cream, some chopped parsley and chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the (drained) fiddleheads and warm for a minute or so.
Meanwhile, pound out some pork chops (with food prices soaring, I've been eating these a lot recently… you can get three for less than five dollars!) and dip them in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Cook them in a skillet with a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat until both sides are crispy and slightly browned, about three minutes per side.
Plate the pork chops and spoon the ragout over the top. Make sure to include enough sauce for dipping the bread!
I still have most of the bag of fiddleheads in my fridge. Any readers have a great recipe they'd like to share?