Recipe for the Holidays
Cardon de Noel is a traditional vegetable dish for Christmas in Provence. You can find some during the Holiday season in the Italian markets like Mona Lisa ( Cardone ) Italian usually just fry them but we make them in a light cream sauce . The delicate flavor tastes like artichoke bottoms and pair very well with truffles . It is simply delicious and I wish I could find some year round ! Here is the way to prepare them ...not complicated but the preparation on the vegetable is a bit labor intensive . The best would be to find super fresh young cardone , as white as possible ( that makes it easier to clean ) but it's not always the case ...They look like big celery stalks but are a bit "furry" and more grey .
You have to remove all the threads like for celery ....and there are always a lot ! Wear gloves as it will stain your hands . Put in a bucket of cold water with a lemon juice or the cardone will turn black .
In a large pot , boil water ; salt and sift in a large tablespoon of flour without making lumps. This will whiten the cardon as it cooks . Boil slowly for about an hour or until soft and tender . You probably will have to ad some water from time to time .
Pierre is just over looking my job today !
Strain in a colander ...this can all be done in advance and put in the fridge to keep straining . The day you want to eat it just a make a light consistency white sauce or "bechamel sauce " This is the most basic of all french sauces ....but I remember it took me a year to master when I was 18 and just moved out of my parent's home and in with Pascal my husband ....some 30 years ago now ! Since then I never weigh or measure anything and always just make a perfect bechamel ( put a good chunk of butter in a sauce pan , when bubbly ad the flour and "foam " to make a "roux" ...ad more flour as needed to thicken your roux and your sauce later ; ad milk and whisk non stop , keep adding milk until reach the right consistency , then ad a small container of whipping cream .) For this recipe you want it to be pretty liquid like an "english cream " and you want to make more than enough so your vegetable is swimming in the sauce because as you bake it in the oven it will thicken and reduce . I do not put any cheese or other seasoning as it kill the delicate flavor ....only a good shaved truffle is perfect addition . bake for 30mns or so until gold on top and serve .This dish goes perfectly with any poultry . Hope you like it !