PGA Food

'Ramp'-ing up Demand: Top chefs look to Medora for this spring ingredient

2014-05-06T15:30:00Z 2014-05-07T14:21:13Z 'Ramp'-ing up Demand: Top chefs look to Medora for this spring ingredientJane Ammeson
May 06, 2014 3:30 pm  • 

There is local when it comes to food and then there is the in-your-backyard or at least in the woods nearby local. And that’s what Tim Burton of Medora, Ind. wild harvests each spring often with the help of well known chefs like Chicagoans Paul Kahan, named,Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2013, and Bruce Sherman, 2012 James Beard Award Winner Best Chef: Great Lakes, as well as Ivy Denman, executive chef at Petite Chou in Broad Ripple just north of Indianapolis.

Burton, who is much better known as the owner of Maplewood Farms and organizer of the National Maple Syrup Festival, sells his syrup at Chicago’s Green City Market and to many restaurants including Black Market and Petite Chou. Several springs ago, he was asked by several of his Chicago chef friends if he had access to ramps. The short answer was yes and so he found himself on the road again, not only with bottles of his organic maple syrup but with a load of what he termed "Indiana Deep Holler Wild Ramps" to deliver to Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill. And from there the demand for ramps, one of the first spring vegetables, grew, enticing big city chefs to come on down to Southern Indiana to forage the woods for these abundant greens with a unique flavor—somewhat a cross of onions and garlic.

How to Cook and Eat Ramps

Eat them raw—spread butter on a thick slice of bread and add the ramps then sprinkle with a touch of sea salt.

Pan sauté—in olive oil and use as sauce with fresh noodles. Or chop up thick slices of maple smoked bacon, sauté ramps and serve as a side.

Buzz—in the blender with olive oil and Parmesan cheese to make ramp pesto.

Sauté—thinly sliced potatoes in a heavy skillet, add ramps and cook until both are tender.

Toss—with asparagus and olive oil and roast in the oven until tender.

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