Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cardoon Gratin (Roman Style)

Cardoons are a very interesting vegetable that you don't tend to see that often. It looks like a rather large celery, yet the flavor is more comparable to an artichoke. Cardoons are a very classical Italian ingredient that would be nice to see more often in the U.S.A. Cardoon stems are also one of the classic tools used to make ricotta cheese. This is a classic Roman recipe for the contorno or "side dish" to the main entree. I add a little bit of chopped preserved lemons to give the dish a little interesting counterpoint.

TT = to taste

1. One large cardoon plant - about 5 1/2 lbs (peeled)
2. 1 1/4 qts Whole milk
3. 2 1/2 oz AP flour
4. 2 1/2 oz butter
5. 2 - 1/4 rinds of preserved lemons, chopped
6. 4 garlic cloves
7. TT freshly grated grated nutmeg
8. TT sea salt
9. TT fresh ground black pepper
10. 5 sprigs fresh thyme
11. 2 cups bread crumbs
12. 1 1/2 cups grated parmiggiano reggiano

1. Boil cardoons in water for 45 minutes until tender
2. Heat butter and flour together to make roux
3. cook for 4-5 minutes until blond color
4. Temper roux with warm milk whisking constantly
5. Add rest of milk whisking constantly until fully combined
6. Add grated nutmeg to bechamel
7. Cook until a little thicker than sauce consistency
8. Season with salt, pepper, thyme & lemon
9. Cut cardoons into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper
10. transfer cardoons to 9x13 pan
11. Pour bechamel over cardoons
12. Top with half of parmigiano reggiano cheese
13. Cover with bread crumbs
14. top with rest of cheese
15. Place pan into 350F oven for 30 minutes until heated through and crust is golden brown
16. Let rest for a few minutes to cool slightly
17. Serve immediately

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