Thursday, November 10, 2011

Behold, the Cardoon

This was my first time using cardoons.  I stumbled upon the celery stalk impostor while perusing fresh direct and I ordered it without having any idea what I would do with it or even how to cook it. I asked some friends about it and people speak of the mild artichoke flavor with such reverence, that despite it being a bit of a pain to prepare, I couldn't wait to try it.  Mario Batali commented on my twitter post, saying it is his favorite fall vegetable.  I did some research on how to cook the thing and found that most recipes call for either breading & frying it or have a beschamel or cheesey/saucy component.  I asked Iron Chef Marc Forgione on twitter and he suggested a cardoon and celery root gratin; sounds delicious, but wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  After giving it some thought, I came up with this dish as my first experiment: Rib Eye with Cardoon, Fennel & Brussel Sprout Leaves and Cardoon Fries.

Behold, the Cardoon.

Cardoons have a fibrous exterior, similar to celery, that needs to be peeled off before you can begin cooking it. Once you peel it, you have to get it right into some water with a little lemon to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown the way other thistles, such as an artichoke would.  I found the best way to peel it is with a small pairing knife; I tried using a vegetable peeler, with little success.

Once you've cleaned the cardoons, you have to braise them for a good 30 minutes before you move on to the next cooking method, which in this case is sautéing them with fennel, garlic and brussel sprout leaves.

Raw Cardoon

Cardoon braising liquid

Braising Liquid:
  • 32 oz of beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion cut into quarters
  • 4 cloves of garlic- smashed
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorn
  • 4 sprigs of thyme 
  • big pinch of salt
* Add the cleaned & peeled cardoons, enough water to cover & simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.

Sauteed cardoons, fennel, garlic, brussel sprout leaves
In a saute pan:
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb- medium dice
  • Braised cardoons - sliced crosswise (reserve a nice flat piece for cardoon fries)
  • Small splash of white wine vinegar
  • Saute for a minute & add the brussel sprout leaves (use the outer leaves, reserving the inner core for later)

Heat a tablespoon of canola oil.
Season your steak with salt and pepper on both sides.
Cook till desired doneness- time will depend on how thick your steak is.
Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing (against the grain).

In the same pan, pour off any fat remaining, add a splash of white wine vinegar and strain the braising liquid into the pan and reduce over medium heat to a thick sauce.
nice, thick rib eye

Cardoon fries & fried brussel sprouts

Slice the reserved flat piece of braised cardoon long ways into fries.
Slice the reserved brussel sprout cores in half vertically.
Dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Fry until golden, drain on a paper towel.
Season with salt.
* This step is a little over the top and totally unnecessary, although, it could make a nice little snack on it's own... maybe with a little lemon aioli?  if you give it a shot, let me know how it comes out.
regardless, it's fun, looks impressive and adds a nice crunchy textural contrast. nothing wrong with a little fried stuff in your dinner.

To serve it up, put down some of the cardoon, fennel, brussel sprout leaf mixture, top with a few slices of the steak, drizzle a little sauce on the steak and top with some cardoon fries and fried brussels. delish.

No comments:

Post a Comment