How To: Cook A Ramp Slurry
From mid-April to mid-May, the most glorious of the onion family grows on the wet hillsides of West Virginia (and several other, lesser states): ramps. Ramps are a delicacy that aren’t for everyone. Those steering clear include weaklings, children, cowards, the gutless, and other assorted weenies who can’t deal with this wild onion’s particular potency. And they are potent. Stored in a fridge, they’ll leave everything reeking of their stench. And the smell hangs around the consumer long after the onions themselves have been consumed.
Still, they’re magical things and wonderful in all sorts of recipes including cornbreads, meatloaves, chilis, salsas. That said though, I honor the following recipe above all others, as it was my first genuine exposure to the local Spring treat. For those without access, this recipe could presumably be recreated with any strong onion that you’re willing to eat.
My apologies in advance for the photographs. They’re not exactly great.
Prepare fat in your biggest skillet. The photo above is of bacon fat melting; anything used to saute/fry works though. I went with a generous portion because, yknow, health or whatever.
Those are yukon golds, not finely chopped. I generally home fry one potato per consumer, plus one or two extras in case somebody’s hungry. All of us ended up being hungry. Although the photo doesn’t really show it, that’s a 14” skillet I’m using to fry things. It’s the largest of my collection. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a similar skillet in cast iron, my true cooking passion.
Anyway, fry, fry, fry. Get them nice and crispy.
At the same time, start bacon going in another pan. This is an entire pack of the thick cut variety. Nothing fancy is required; you don’t need to visit an a specialty butcher’s shop. Whatever cheap pack is on sale this week at the grocery store is going get the job done. This isn’t about subtlety.
Cook this bacon on relatively high heat until it too is crispy. If you’re very talented, the bacon and potatoes will reach this point simultaneously, sort of like how couples in movies always orgasm at the same time, just like in real life.
These are ramps that have been washed.
These are washed ramped that have been chopped.
These are washed, chopped ramps that have been pushed into a tighter pile. I unfortunately had to lose many of the leaves. They’d started to rot since being dug several days ago (likely last Friday). There’s no reason not to eat the leaves if they’re still looking good though. They all would have gone into the pan if they’d been in better condition.
Remember the bacon? Use a slotted spoon to take it out of its frying pan. Sprinkle it over the potatoes and leave the heat where it is. You can mix it into the potatoes if that makes you happier. You’ll be mixing them later regardless.
Meanwhile, the ramps have gone straight into the bacon’s left behind fat. It should only take a few minutes to cook them down until vague translucence. As soon as they’re getting to that condition, it’s time to combine everything you’ve made so far.
Which looks like this. But we’re not done, because god forbid the caloric content stop where we are. Although I should probably acknowledge that the next part is entirely optional.
Remember when you counted out the number of potatoes to fry per person? Double it for the eggs; in other words, use two eggs for every person that’s eating. Put them in a bowl and scramble them, but don’t thicken with milk. Pour the eggs over the potatoes/bacon/ramps or make a biohazard symbol as a friend that was eating with me did. Worth noting: I’ve seen the eggs cracked directly into the pan and not whipped beforehand. That’s cool too.
Give the eggs thirty seconds maybe, then start slowly stirring, folding them into the rest of the mixture. They’ll start to scramble, although obviously more thinly than they would if there was milk in the mix.
Let the entire mixture sit long enough for the eggs to thoroughly cook, and then allow it to sit longer than that to get a crust on the bottom. That crust is entirely up to you. I probably gave it five additional minutes tonight; things got brown, but not dark brown. On more impatient days, I’ve simply served the entire thing as soon as the eggs appeared to have reach a suitable level of cooked.
Serve with some sort of hot sauce (preferably Frank’s) or ketchup (if you’re a monster). Note that the name of the dish – ramp slurry – isn’t particularly appetizing. You’ll survive.
In the end, you’ve got that, a pile of food served unceremoniously on a cheap Ikea plate. If you’re one of those people who has to think that you’re looking at the most beautiful food in the world before testing it, this ain’t for you. I freely admit that the final product looks like it was ridden hard and put up wet (to slightly abuse a beautiful phrase). If you’ve made it this far though, you’re not in this for the look; you’re in this for the flavor.
And fried potatoes are good. Crispy bacon is good. Scrambled eggs, even thin ones, are good. And ramps? They’re almost heaven.
(Please note: I cross-posted this at a personal website called The City Of Morgantown. Don’t bother visiting; it’s local history and politics that are a snooze for almost everyone, including the people from here.)