Monday, 3 April 2017

Ramsons Cream



April is the time new plants start emerging in numbers and it's a great time for wild foragers. One of the plants they will seek out is wild garlic, known as Ramsons in English and Ail des ours ('Bears garlic') in French. It grows in damp woodland places, often beside streams. Where it grows it tends to grow abundantly so there is no danger of over harvesting if you are just picking for personal use. And bears are extinct in France so you are not depriving them now.

 Ramsons growing on the banks of the Courtineau.

Usually you find it by noticing the strong garlic scent in the air. It really pongs, but in fact the taste is much milder, more like chives. You can chiffonade it and use it in omelettes or you can make a creamy sauce for steak, chicken or fish. The sauce freezes well, and is easier to make in a reasonably generous quantity.

 Sweating the ramsons leaves with onion.

Ingredients:
50 g butter
1 onion, sliced or chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
A generous handful of ramsons, washed, leaves only
100 - 200 ml cream
Other herbs eg chervil, tarragon, chopped (optional)
200 g mushrooms, chopped or sliced (optional)
Pinch of salt

Method:
  1. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Sweat the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the mushrooms if using and cook until they release their liquid. You may want to tip some of the liquid out.
  4. Add the ramsons and herbs (if using) and sweat them until thoroughly wilted.
  5. Transfer to a blender and add the cream and salt.
  6. Blend until reasonably smooth.
  7. Warm gently to serve (this recipe makes at least 6 servings and if you've used mushrooms, twice that amount).
Sauce for the freezer.

17 comments:

  1. That sounds and looks delicious. I am a great fan of garlic, wild or otherwise, and use it without restraint.

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  2. These are sought after in New England too, along with wild fern fiddleheads, which would be delicious with your sauce.

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    1. Fern fiddleheads are something I've never tried. You couldn't do it here because they are mostly protected I think. I know New Zealanders and Canadians look forward to them.

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    2. I wish they'd become popular in the U.K.... bracken is a mighty nuisance in some important wildflower sites, choking out what needs to flourish, but every time some chef or another tries, the media have a field day on the carcinogen properties of ferns, especially bracken, and it vanishes! The spores are the carcinogenic part.... they have long gone when the fiddleheads are around.... fern omelette is very nice!

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  3. The sauce does look good! Thanks for the recipe.

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  4. They make a pretty picture. Ramps are the US version of this plant (you have Allium ursinum; we have tricoccum). Friends of ours went to a ramps festival in West Virginia and stopped to ask a woman for directions. When she opened her mouth to answer they both took a quick step back.

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  5. This is a plant I want to introduce here... in the wood I've planted before the dam. I love the stuff...

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    1. It should thrive there. Do you want to make a raid on the Cortineau colony one day? I can't see any reason taking a few bulbs would hurt. I'm happy to drive you up there. It's an interesting area botanically, geologically and architecturally.

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    2. OK. I'll email you with some dates.

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  6. David Lebovitz's email today is about Ramp pesto.

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    1. I know. I've commented on it. Great minds, eh?

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  7. Ça tombe bien! I bought some at the market and wasn't sure what to do with it.

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