Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fiddle De De


Fiddleheads are now in season, but if you like this New England delicacy you’d better act fast because they are only available for a couple of weeks each year. They aren’t easy to find, but some stores do stock them.

Lucky for me, Lisa Witzke, owner of Naked Earth Whole Food Market in Foster Square in Brewster, always has fiddleheads this time of year and she even provides a recipe to prepare them that is delicious.

Or if you want a ready supply of these succulent tastes of spring, you can easily plant your own patch in a shady corner of your yard. Fiddleheads are the buds of the Ostrich Fern and since the ferns spread by underground stolons, they quickly regenerate. So even if you pick a whole basket full in the spring, you can still have a lovely fern bed later in the summer.



It’s hard to describe what fiddleheads taste like if you haven’t tried one and to be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic when Lisa first talked me into giving them a try a few years ago. But there’s something intriguing about foraging in the woods for food and once the first little circle landed I my tongue, I was hooked. They are similar in flavor to asparagus, but totally unique in the sensation of their shape. Crunchy, but wispy - and oh so fun.

The Recipe:

Sauteed Fiddlehead Ferns
Serves 4

1 pound fiddlehead ferns
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
4 slices bacon, diced
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Trim the dark ends from the stems and wash the fiddleheads in a coarse strainer using a strong stream of water. Place them in a large bowl of water and swirl them around, rubbing off the thin flakes of chaff on the ferns. Drain and dry on a paper towel, rubbing off any remaining chaff.

Heat cast iron pan over medium high heat and add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered. Add the fiddleheads and the garlic and cook, covered, for 3 – 4 minutes. If the pan seems too dry, add a few sprinkles of water to create steam. Uncover and cook an additional 3 – 4 minutes, stirring frequently until they are tender but still crunchy. Add salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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