Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Salsify and carbonnade

One of my favourite root vegetables is the salsify. With its delicious melt-in-the-mouth texture and subtle flavour, in France it's very common indeed and easily obtainable in any market. But in Australia it's very hard to find though in truth it grows wild in many places. Wild salsify isn't much good, though; the root, which is what you eat, is too thin and spindly and by the time you've peeled the unpalatable skin off, you don't have much flesh left. David searched for ages for domesticated salsify seed and finally tracked some down; and though the first year nothing much happened, somehow this year it's taken off. Our salsify isn't as big as the ones you get in France, but they are much bigger than the wild variety, and they've made some wonderful entrees(as in the photo) and vegetable side dishes.They can of course also proudly take their place on a vegetarian table, either as side dish to, say, Puty lentils, or as an unusual centrepiece in themselves.
To prepare salsify,  have a bowl or pan of cold water ready with a dash of vinegar in it. Cut off the tops, peel the roots and as you go, drop each peeled root into the vinegared water(if you don't do this, the roots will discolour). Then cut them into pieces as required, and cook: stir them first in a little melted butter, add salt, pepper, and just enough water to cover--though a touch of wine and stock mixed is even nicer. Cook till a knife goes through them easily. Drain, serve with a little butter and herbs. You can add sliced garlic too if you like though it might overwhelm the salsify's delicate flavour. In the entree dish of salsify in the photo, David added some chopped smoked salmon to it, which made a lovely contrast. As a side dish, salsify is yummy with all kinds of meats, but especially poultry and pork.
Such as the pork carbonnade also illustrated, which I made the other day. This very typical Gascon dish uses pork and prunes to create a lovely marriage of flavours. And it's dead simple to prepare. Fry the pork chops first till they're well-seared(but not thoroughly cooked), add salt, pepper, a touch of Armagnac(preferably) or cognac or brandy if you don't have Armagnac. Take the chops out of the pan, lay in a baking dish. Fry some chopped onions in the same juices as the pork. Pour cooked onions and juices over the meat. Add chopped prunes(without stones of course), sprinkle on top. Sprinkle with a little olive oil, another small splash of Armagnac/brandy. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until pork is well-cooked and prunes have almost melted together in a kind of soft mash. Serve with salsify or with garlicky potatoes cooked in duck fat, and a green salad.

No comments:

Post a Comment