Thursday, June 15, 2006

A cry for help

After I smugly explained to the farmers market blueberry lady what my cardoons -- sorry, Paul, cardoni -- were and how to cook them, I went home and cooked them à la grecque... and nearly choked on the result. Even my half-dead palate could barely handle the bitterness. I admit failure. What, short of bagna cauda, do you do with cardoon?

Lest you imagine I've lost my touch, I should mention that I also prepared a delicious variation on Colman Andrews's Llobarro al Forn (p. 129) with Halibut cheeks.


Anonymous russ parsons said...

blanch them until tender, then bake them with some sliced potatoes in a gratin--bechamel with gruyere shaved in (mornay-ish)

Thu Jun 15, 09:08:00 PM GMT  
Blogger mmw said...

Hmmm, although I neglected to check last night, Amazon suggests that your idea came from the same page of Chez Panisse Vegetables as mine... but it sounds good.

I think the problem might be with the very first clause: I Ă  la grecque'd the fuck out of them and they were still pretty hard. And these were young, small cardoons, picked the same day from a local farm.

Perhaps I didn't peel them enough? But any more paring and there'd be nothing left to eat...

Thu Jun 15, 10:47:00 PM GMT  
Anonymous russ parsons said...

unfortunately mmw, i'm at the office and am away from my books. it was just a thought i had, but i guess there's no such thing as an original sin. and what is it they say about good deeds?

Thu Jun 15, 11:22:00 PM GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very important point: Cardoons are a winter vegetable. Though they continue to grow into the spring, spring warmth makes them unpleasantly bitter, and they can also become woody.

Fri Jun 16, 01:27:00 AM GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if it's winter, they can be eaten either raw (especially as an antipasto) or cooked. In terms of seasoning, they're rather sweet, a characteristic that is generally balanced through the use of anchovies, cheese, or white sauces.

Fri Jun 16, 01:32:00 AM GMT  
Blogger mmw said...

Having been schooled by Russ and anonymous, the solution is obvs. to make a gratin next winter.

Or just eat them raw with a shot of Fernet... I'll report back in 7 months.

[For the record, I was trying to humorously note a coincidence, not play my favorite insult-the-powerful-for-no-reason game with Russ. This is why I'm not quitting my day job.]

Fri Jun 16, 06:58:00 PM GMT  
Blogger the patriarch said...

What language is this post in?

Fri Jun 16, 08:41:00 PM GMT  
Blogger mmw said...

Fratalilan. a/k/a Pretençais.

Fri Jun 16, 08:52:00 PM GMT  
Anonymous carl said...

1. Wait until cool weather to try them again.

2. Peel off the heavy strings and slice them crosswise (not lengthwise).

3. Lazy or ignorant vendors will try to sell you just the outer, overgrown, tough stalks. These are really just swine fodder. The best stalks are those that are only about twice as large as a big stalk of celery.

4. The cardoons should be mild enough to eat raw. If not, boil them in a LOT of well-salted water, just as you would green beans.

5. As Lucien Tendret reminds us, cardoons are very maigre and require fat to make them delicious. So:

6. They are delicous blanched and drizzled with cream and slipped into a hot oven (black truffles are nice with this, as is a little reinforcement from a well-reduced meaty jus). Buttery breadcrumbs are optional. Sauce Mornay is also possible.

7. Blanched and then fried (batter, crumbs, or simply dipped in buttermilk and dredged in cornmeal).

8. Blanched if too tough to eat raw, but thinly sliced and marinated in a lovely vinaigrette.

9. Something to look forward to in the fall.

Tue Jul 11, 05:08:00 AM GMT  

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