Easter Sunday finished with a full-on roast dinner, so far so normal. But I happened to have a bag of young and squeaky-fresh wild garlic leaves in the fridge. Wild garlic doesn’t last long, you need to pick it and use it within a day or two. So I looked at them, and looked at the carrots, and wondered what would happen if they were cooked together. The answer is that good things happen, very good things indeed.
First, you need to acquire some wild garlic. For me, this involves a trip to the Malvern Hills.
There’s a patch of wild garlic which arrives on cue every March, set back from the road and extending down a bank. It’s accessible enough. Avoid any that are too close to the road and will probably be dirty. Wild garlic looks like lily of the valley, but stinks. Really stinks. Of garlic, obviously. Once you’re near a patch, I think it would be pretty difficult to miss…just follow your nose. Pluck a few leaves from several different plants, so that you won’t kill them, and go for the ones that look young and fresh. Wild garlic is at its best right now but in a few weeks time it will be over – once it’s flowered, that’s it.
Treat wild garlic like particularly pungent, herby spinach. It needs very little cooking but packs a flavour punch. Previously I’ve chopped it and put it under the skin of a chicken before roasting, which lends an aromatic note throughout the flesh. I think it would also be admirable as a replacement for tarragon in a classic chicken-tarragon fricassee. Then there’s those carrots, which were treated thus:
Sauteed wild garlic carrots
Peel and chop carrots sufficient for your dinner into dainty chunks. Braise them in a lidded pan with a knob of butter, a few tablespoons of water and salt/pepper until soft, then remove the lid and reduce any remaining water to be left with a sticky, buttery glaze. Add in a handful of washed, chopped wild garlic and wilt for a minute or two under the gentlest of heats. Serve straight away.