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Ramp Week: How To Make The Rampiest Risotto
The great thing about ramps is that unlike, say, garlic, they can give you all that awesome sweet onion-y flavor without leaving your breath smelling like garlic.
I mean, they do leave your breath smelling like ramps, but that's a much finer, rarer thing to smell like. People will literally* want you to breathe into their face after eating a bowl full of this extra-ramp-y ramp risotto. I've tested it out on both my dogs and have the data to prove it.
*Not literally. Or figuratively, even. They will not want you breathing in their face at all.
What's the secret to getting your risotto extra ramp-y? Just triple up the ramps. Normally I start my risotto with garlic and shallots cooked in butter and oil. In this case, I completely replace all aromatics with ramps. Ramp whites, to be precise, which stand up better to long cooking than ramp greens do.
Once the whites are cooked down, I toast my rice in the same butter before adding some wine and stock. In this case, I cooked my risotto the traditional way, adding stock in batches and stirring with a wooden spoon as I went. You could also cook it using my no-stir technique, which works marvelously, if I do say so myself.
So how do you incorporate that fresh, grassy ramp green flavor? Easy: as a green puree. By blanching the greens in boiling water for about 30 seconds, you destroy the enzymes that cause them to brown when they are subsequently pureed and exposed to oxygen. The result is a nearly neon-green puree that boasts intensely fresh ramp flavor, and stays bright even when stirred into your risotto.
All it takes from there are a few finishing touches. Some parmesan cheese to add richness and depth, some sautéed ramps to top it off, a bit of lemon zest and juice to brighten the flavor, and a dollop of herb-flavored ricotta cheese to enrich the whole dish. You could use some raw ramp greens in your ricotta or stirred into the risotto to finish, but there's a reason you don't see raw ramps too often: They don't taste very good. You're better off going with chives.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.
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