Fiddlehead Ferns Recipe With Bacon, Onions and Garlic

Fiddlhead ferns in their natural habitat.

I wouldn’t be a true New Englander if I didn’t have a fond appreciation of the local cuisine, and fiddlehead ferns are a Northeastern luxury that is only available for a short window of time every year (usually 2-3 weeks). The fiddlehead fern is a young, unfurled fern that resembles the curled end of the fiddle and is foraged for food annually. I’ve enjoyed two meals that have included fiddleheads this past week. My first experience was a fiddlehead and mushroom salad in a sweet vinaigrette (not pictured) for a Sunday lunch that my father-in-law made. The other we enjoyed last night as an appetizer (recipe below). We’ve been loving it so much, we’re going to get another pound of fiddlehead ferns tonight to try another recipe. It’s only $4.99 per pound at our local supermarket, but I’ve heard of people paying upwards of $20 and $30 per pound in other parts of the country.

Rumor has it that fiddlehead ferns are absolutely jam-packed with nutrition, containing twice as many anti-oxidants as blueberries. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, along with several vitamins and minerals. Some ferns do contain carcinogens that have been linked with cancer – the bracken fern being the worst offender. The ostrich fern is the one that you’ll want to look for. There have also been some cases of food poisoning from fiddlehead ferns that were eaten raw or not cooked well enough. So, it’s important to make sure you cook them thoroughly before eating them. We like eating them because they’re delicious, nutritious, local, seasonal, and wild!

Below, you’ll find a recipe for making fiddleheads tasty and memorable. If you don’t have access to fiddleheads, then asparagus can be substituted. If you don’t have access to asparagus, just double the bacon.

Some fiddlehead fern purists may think this recipe is a slap in the face of traditional New England gourmet. While that may be true, I won’t hesitate to mention that there’s no reason you need to prepare fiddleheads as elaborately as the below recipe. It’s quite common just to boil fiddleheads for 10 minutes or steam for 20 minutes and then enjoy them with butter, vinegar, or your favorite salad dressing. I imagine they would also be good sauteed in coconut oil. Fiddlehead ferns are often served in a dish of mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, or any other slightly crispy vegetable.

Fiddlehead Ferns With Bacon, Onions and Garlic

Ingredients:
1/2 pound of fiddlehead ferns
1/2 pound of bacon
1 small or medium onion
1-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of dry white cooking wine
2-3 tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper

Total preparation and cooking time: 20-30 minutes (this recipe is pretty easy to double or to make in bulk)

Step 1: Inspect each fiddlehead individually because they’re really cool. I think they look like shrimp. You can trim the stock off if it’s already browning or much more than an inch long.

Step 2: Rinse and re-rinse your fiddleheads to get all the dirt off of them, you can also brush them gently to loosen any clingy dirt.

Step 3: Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and then boil the fiddleheads for about 3-4 minutes. Immediately, drain the water and place the fiddleheads into an ice bath to retain some of the color. After they’ve cooled, allow them to dry.

Step 4: While the fiddleheads are boiling, you can slice the bacon into bite-sized squares.

Step 5: Saute the bacon to desired crispiness. I usually prefer softer bacon, but in this particular dish, I think the crispy texture contrasts well with the softer onions.

Step 6: Slice the onion and garlic.

Step 7: Plop about 1 tbsp of butter into another pan for the fiddleheads.

Step 8: Saute the fiddleheads on medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic and keep sauteing.

Step 9: Once the garlic is just beginning to brown, add the white wine. Stir constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Step 10: After the bacon is done cooking, set it aside. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan and use the remaining grease to saute the onions on high until slightly browned.

Note: Save your bacon fat.

Step 11: Once most of the white wine is absorbed and before the fiddleheads get mushy, kill the burner and plate the greens.

Step 12: Top with bacon. Begin the process of drooling.

Step 13: Top with onion. Wipe your mouth.

Step 14: Add salt and pepper to taste. Explain to the dog that this is a meal for omnivores, not carnivores.

Step 15: Enjoy!

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Fiddlehead Ferns With Bacon, Onions and Garlic

Ingredients:
1/2 pound of fiddlehead ferns
1/2 pound of bacon
1 small or medium onion
1-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of dry white cooking wine
2-3 tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper

Total preparation and cooking time: 20-30 minutes

Step 1: Inspect each fiddlehead individually because they’re really cool. I think they look like shrimp. You can trim the stock off if it’s already browning or much more than an inch long.
Step 2: Rinse and re-rinse your fiddleheads to get all the dirt off of them, you can also brush them gently to loosen any clingy dirt.
Step 3: Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and then boil the fiddleheads for about 3-4 minutes. Immediately, drain the water and place the fiddleheads into an ice bath to retain some of the color. After they’ve cooled, allow them to dry.
Step 4: While the fiddleheads are boiling, you can slice the bacon into bite-sized squares.
Step 5: Saute the bacon to desired crispiness. I usually prefer softer bacon, but in this particular dish, I think the crispy texture contrasts well with the softer onions.
Step 6: Slice the onion and garlic.
Step 7: Plop about 1 tbsp of butter into another pan for the fiddleheads.
Step 8: Saute the fiddleheads on medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic and keep sauteing.
Step 9: Once the garlic is just beginning to brown, add the white wine. Stir constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Step 10: After the bacon is done cooking, set it aside. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan and use the remaining grease to saute the onions on high until slightly browned.
Step 11: Once most of the white wine is absorbed and before the fiddleheads get mushy, kill the burner and plate the greens.
Step 12: Top with bacon. Begin the process of drooling.
Step 13: Top with onion. Wipe your mouth.
Step 14: Add salt and pepper to taste. Explain to the dog that this is a meal for omnivores, not carnivores.
Step 15: Enjoy!

*From John Sifferman of PhysicalLiving.com. This recipe idea came from MarksDailyApple.com.

So, have you tried fiddlehead ferns and how do you usually prepare them? And if you try the recipe above, please share any customizations you enjoyed!

One Response

  1. 1-st time in my life I enjoyed these vegetables – we called PAPRAT.
    It was mix feeling, because so many time I had walked between them in the mountain,in the forest but I never think that they could be eaten.
    And also I made the receipt without bacon, just with red and green pepper, onion, garlic and mushrooms.
    The new taste wasn’t bad, still if they have more of Omega 3 :-)

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