Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pappardelle with Rabbit, Ramps, and Spring Garlic

This was my first year making ramps, and after cooking with them and eating them in various dishes all weekend, I have no idea why I waited so long. Ramps are a member of the lily family, which also includes garlic, onions, and leeks, and they've got a bit of the sweetness of leeks mixed in with some garlic bite. Also, they're beautiful, with their big, elegant green leaves, rich purple stalk, and thin white bulbs. And more importantly, they taste like pure spring, which is quite exciting after many long, winter months of icy weather and root vegetables.

When I first got home from the farmers' market, three full bunches of ramps in hand, I stood in my kitchen, scrolling through recipes on my laptop, and wondering what I should do with my bounty. You can do a lot with them, it turns out. I made two pastas, both recipes from Martha Stewart, but I also prepared them alone, coated in good olive oil and some salt and pepper, and seared in a scalding hot pan until a few charred spots on the leaves appeared. They were delicious every which way, but I think this may be my favorite way to eat them--braised for a good long time with rabbit and wild spring garlic in wine and chicken stock, and tossed with pappardelle noodles. It may actually have been one of the best pastas I've ever made. I highly recommend trying this one out before ramps disappear from the markets--their season only lasts until June. xo

Pappardelle with Rabbit, Ramps, and Spring Garlic
Serves 6
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 rabbit (about 2 pounds), cut into 6 pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
14 ounces wild (spring) garlic (about 8), white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
6 ounces ramps (about 14), leaves and bulbs separated, bulbs halved lengthwise
1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dry Riesling
1 pound pappardelle

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge rabbit or chicken in flour mixture, coating all sides. Shake off excess.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add meat pieces. (Work in batches if necessary.) Cook until dark golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium, and add garlic and ramp bulbs. Cook, stirring, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

Return meat to pan. Add stock, wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cover. Place in oven, and cook until meat is very tender, about 1 hour. Transfer meat pieces to a plate. Cut meat from bones in large chunks. Discard bones.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Place the pan with the cooked garlic and ramps and their cooking liquid over high heat, and boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add meat and ramp leaves. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta, and add to meat mixture. Toss gently, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.