Cardoon and Marrow Gratin
Cardoons are gorgeous perennials that grow really well in the Bay Area and are delicious when prepared correctly. They taste a lot like artichoke hearts but have a lot more edible product per plant and just way less fussy to eat. The Weird Catch is that you can’t really buy them anywhere.
This recipe is a somewhat complicated French casserole dish we made using cardoons grown at home. We pieced together this recipe and approach from a few different sources online. The quantities here aren’t precise and we basically used as much to fill a smaller, enameled casserole dish.
- Prepare the cardoons:
- If growing at home, you’ll need to bundle the cardoon fronds together with some burlap and leave in the garden for a few weeks before you eat them. Confusingly, this is called ‘blanching’ and is intended to sweeten the cardoons, which are generally very bitter. (Aside: it’s unclear if this is necessary.)
- Harvest cardoons, strip leaves, wash thoroughly, and remove any stringy fibers. Cut into 3 inch battons and store under some lemon water until finished.
- Blanch in salty, boiling water until edible/al dente, and remove.
- Prepare the bone marrow:
- Return the blanching pot to a boil and add bone marrow (whole, bones and all) to the pot for just a minute or two.
- Remove bone marrow and set on ends in casserole dish.
- Prepare a sauce:
- Melt 2 tbsp or so of shallot compound butter in a pan. Once melted, add 2 tbsp of flour and stir to lightly cook. Add salt as needed and ground black pepper.
- Add about 1/2 quart of chicken stock and reduce to a sauce over 30 minutes.
- Layer cardoon battons in-between the marrow bones in the casserole dish, following with sauce. Cover top layer with grated hard cheese.
- Bake at 350F until top layer is browned and bubbly.
- We also sauteed mushrooms in butter and added them as a final layer before the cheese.