New York – One of the things I do miss about NYC is the Greenmarket. While Buenos Aires has numerous farm stands and the various Mercados I’ve reviewed, it has nothing like the open air gathering that is the weekend greenmarket at Union Square, in particular. A lot of the fun of the greenmarket is the constant exchange of information – people you’ve never met will chat with you over radishes and herbs – sharing or asking for recipes, tips, and just general conversation. There’s a convivial air of community at a farmer’s market that is missing from the more commercial air of the Mercados. I had stopped to talk with my friends John and Brooks at Rick Bishop’s famed potato stand (if you’ve never gone on a Saturday to, well, fondle Rick’s potatoes, you just don’t know what you’re missing). I ended up with a good sized bag of miniature La Ratte potatoes and a bundle of beautifully fresh green garlic – an essentially herbal version of garlic that seemed the perfect ingredient to use with this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging fest.
Owner, Mountain Sweet Berry Farms
Bishop isn’t the only farmer who sells ramps – the pungent, sweet wild leeks that ate Manhattan menus a few years back and return, to food fanatics’ delight, for a few short weeks every spring. But Bishop, along with fellow forward-thinking Greenmarketeers like Alex Paffenroth and Ted Blew, deserves much of the credit for Manhattan’s fresh-produce revolution. Over the years, Bishop has brought not just ramps but fragrant little local strawberries, wild watercress, fiddleheads, and Italian shell beans from borlotti to zolfini to the streets of downtown Manhattan. Paffenroth, for his part, pushes formerly rare roots like salsify and burdock. Blew’s Oak Grove Plantation has thirteen varieties of basil, from plain-old Italian to Mexican and Armenian. Together, Bishop and company (with the help of Danny Meyer and other fresh-ingredient-obsessed chefs) have helped awaken New Yorkers’ palates to the pleasures of fresh, locally grown, seasonal ingredients. – New York Magazine
I started sort of mentally planning a nice dinner pairing these two. You didn’t think I was going to stop cooking just because I’m on vacation, did you? Frank and I zipped out to a local market and found some fresh morel mushrooms and a couple of beautifully plump poussins, which are young chickens, generally slightly under 1 pound apiece. I salted the poussins with some coarse sea salt and let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then, cleaned up the potatoes, morels, and garlic. The first step then was to saute the green garlic in a mix of butter and olive oil. I used about three tablespoons total. I left the bulbs of the garlic whole, they’re perfectly bite sized, and coarsely chopped the first few inches of the greens. When the bulbs were lightly browned, I added the potatoes and continued to saute for a few minutes, shaking the pan regularly.
I used a saute pan big enough that I could push all the potatoes out in a ring to the outer edges and leave space in the middle to brown the poussins. After browning on all sides, and regularly stirring up the potatoes so they didn’t burn on one side, the whole thing was ready to go in the oven. Note, by the way, that with the liquid that comes off the potatoes, the garlic, and the chicken, I didn’t need to add anything else. The only seasoning as I was sauteeing was a bit of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. At that point, into a hot oven – 450°F, and let everything roast. About 20-25 minutes into the cooking I checked on the doneness of the potatoes and the poussin, figured they need about another 10-15 minutes, and turned them over so that the opposite side got exposed to the dry heat – keeps the whole thing nice and juicy. Total cooking time was about 40 minutes in the oven.
The final step was to make a sauce for the dish. I removed the poussins and the potato mixture to a serving platter. Then I stuck the saute pan back on top of the stove over high heat. Added a couple more tablespoons of butter and let that start to brown. At that point I added the morels, sliced into rings, a bit of salt and black pepper. Sauteeing over high heat these cook very fast – and at about 30 seconds, I pulled the pan off the heat and added about ¼ cup of brandy (off the heat so it doesn’t burst into flame in your hands). Then returned it to the stove and cooked off the alcohol – about another minute at the most. You should be left with a wonderfully flavorful mushroom and brandy butter, that you can then just pour over the poussins and potatoes. Yum.