Hannah Palmer Egan
Fiddleheads are one of spring's most coveted wild edibles.
Fiddlehead season is short. In May, just after mud season subsides, the ferns send up tender little coils that — within the span of a week to 10 days — unspool into elegant, shade-loving fronds. Catch them before that happens and they're one of Vermont's favorite spring treats. Though many ferns are edible in the fiddlehead stage, the ostrich fern's
fiddles are most tender and palatable. They're also the easiest to clean and prepare.
The season is just about over, but folks living in higher elevations and cool northern regions can probably still find a few. One of the nice things about fiddleheads is that they keep really well — my cousin gave me a pound more than a week ago and I forgot about them until last weekend, when I threw them on the grill alongside pork chops and beans for a smart Sunday supper.
Hannah Palmer Egan
Throw those fiddle babies on the grill!
Serves four, as a side dish
- 1/2 pound fiddleheads, washed and chaff removed
- Two slices thick-cut bacon, pancetta or guanciale, cut into half-inch pieces
- Two teaspoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and loosely diced
- Splash balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan, pecorino or alpine cheese, for garnish
- Light the grill and bring to temp while you prepare the ferns.
- Heat 2-3 cups of water in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the water boils, blanch fiddleheads for 3-4 minutes until they turn a brilliant green but remain firm. Drain the water and any chaff that came off the ferns as they boiled.
- Add the bacon, butter, garlic and balsamic to the fiddlehead skillet and stir well. Dust with salt and pepper and stir again.
- Place skillet on the hot grill and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fiddleheads brown and the pork crisps up — 20-30 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is.
- Grate some hard, salty cheese over the top and serve immediately.