ramp risotto

May 8th, 2008 · 52 Comments

i just read that ‘nothing piques the passion of the seasonally obsessed chef like ramps‘.  they have a short season and a cult following, and rightly so.  these baby wild leeks boast a sweet but complex taste that falls somewhere between onions and garlic only much better.  much much better…

and hey, lest i digress…  could someone out there explain the whole fiddlehead fern phenomenon.  like what is the big deal?  i’ve had them prepared numerous ways by those in the know, and in a word?  meh.  with a capitol, meh.  so when ff’s show up, the only real good news is that then it must also be ramp season.  and that right there? that is something to get excited about.  so much so that i hereby declare ramps the new black.  that’s how much i love them.  which is a lot.

while some of you are out there foraging for your ramps, nettles, morels and ff’s, let it be known that i am sans poison ivy and tick free.  i’m home drinking a glass of wine and clicking the ‘buy it now’ button on ebay where i am declared a winner of 50 freshly harvested ramps, and ebay sincerely congratulates me.  i toast my good fortune to the food gods and put up my feet, pleased that ebay recognizes my winning ways.  it may be true that i’ve just spent $11 and increased my carbon footprint, wheras the foragers got both their ramps and their lyme disease for free… but i’m ok with all of this.  because first and foremost i am a winner.

so thank you seller camper750.  they were just beautiful…

see?  ramp perfection… at my door in no time flat.  the bowl was ebayed too, but from last year.

the plan was to make a perfect risotto.  i came across a ny magazine recipe from 2005 of famed chef scott conant, from when he was at l’empero in nyc.  i immediately knew that this was what i was looking for.

ramp risotto
adapted from scott conant (
soon to be at ‘scarpetta‘)

i doubled this recipe and it worked out beautifully.  i used carnaroli rice but i am sure any risotto rice would work fine.  i substituted my veal stock for the chicken and well, i highly recommend this if you can…

5 T extra-virgin olive oil
10 ramps
1 shallot, ?nely chopped
1 t of red-pepper ?akes
1 cup
vialone nano rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth, simmering in separate pot on stove
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
salt to taste

in a wide, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.  

finely chop ramp greens and stalks, reserving greens for later. add shallot, ramp stalks, and pepper ?akes, and stir until the shallot is translucent, about two minutes. add rice to pot and cook over medium heat for two minutes, stirring to coat rice with oil.  

pour in 1/4 cup of the wine and boil until almost absorbed; a little liquid should remain on top of the rice. add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hot broth at a time, stirring the rice constantly until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. add another 1/4 cup of stock, the remaining wine, and a tablespoon of olive oil, continuing to stir.  

add the ramp greens and more stock as needed and continue cooking and stirring until the risotto looks creamy but is still al dente, about 20 minutes. remove from heat and let the risotto stand for about 30 seconds. add a drizzle of olive oil, butter, and cheese; stir until well combined. season with salt. makes 4 first-course portions.

to serve with the risotto, i roasted a chicken alla ‘zuni cafe’ style, except i stuffed the cavity with lemon and limes, something i’d never done before.  i think the citrus caused some steam in an otherwise very dry oven environment, making the chicken perhaps less crisp but amazingly flavorful.  i buy only small chickens – no more than 3.25 lbs – and roast at 475 f for 45 minutes.

the trussing technique was "unique" and could not be repeated for any price.  but you can rest assured that bird wasn’t going anywhere.

this risotto was a first class wow.  to be honest, we kind of couldn’t get over just how good it was.  throughout the day it was eaten by 5 people and it greatly influenced their opinion of me.  ramps are an impressive ingredient.  they’re so many things all at once.  if you missed them this year, try to make it a point for next.

although i do believe camper750 still has some available.  act fast and you too could be a winner…

Tags: greens · risotto

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