Though quickly fleeting, we are still flanked by the bony fingers of winter. This is not always an easy transition. The movement and stirring of spring can bring movement and stirring within, which can be accompanied by a fair share of discomfort. What has settled during the cold months, covered in layers of wool and nestled by the fire, is awakened and asked to preform, and even put on new growth.
This is where wild greens can offer excellent support. Even before our spring gardens produce salads and sweet kales, wild greens are in full force.
Nettles are a favorite of mine (just cruise through previous recipes). They have a profile worthy of respect. Coming in early, while things are still waking up, nettles offer our bodies the same prospect. All we have to do is harvest (carefully) and prepare. They are vital---full of vitamins and minerals, and have something else about them unlike any other leafy green. Maybe it is the stinging characteristic, but nettles pack a punch.
The primary ethos surrounding seasonal eating is based on this example: by eating what is available within each special moment of the season, our bodies glean exactly what they need, physically and otherwise.
The first day of our local farmer's market resumed yesterday, where freshly harvested, grass-fed meats were available. The chicken I brought home from East Fork Farm accompanied fresh nettles in this dish, alongside a bit of cream, pungent garlic and onion, vegetables and a slow simmered broth made from duck feet.
Meals like this help us find our sense of place in a remarkable, ever changing environment.
Creamy Chicken n' Nettles:
*1 small whole chicken (roasted, meat pulled)
*2 tablespoons butter
*1 small sweet onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*3 celery ribs, including leaves, chopped
*1 zucchini, chopped
*1 tablespoon flour
*1/4 cup cream
*1 cup broth
*4-5 cups fresh stinging nettle, loosely packed
*3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
*3/4 cup frozen peas
In a large skillet, saute onion, garlic and celery in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add zucchini. Saute until contents are slightly softened and onion is aromatic. Move contents to perimeter of the pan, creating a well in the middle. Add additional tablespoon of butter in well. Stir flour into melted butter to create a paste. Allow to slightly brown. Add cream and broth. Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer. Once liquid begins to thicken, add pulled chicken meat. Stir. Add nettles to pan and stir hot contents over leaves until they begin to wilt. Reduce heat to med-low and cover.
Remove from heat once nettles are well wilted but still bright green. Add peas and corn. Stir well. Adjust seasonings.