Cardoons are thistle-like stalks which come from the Globe Artichoke (at least mine did but there are different varieties of Cardoons). The Cardoon is native to the Mediterranean, where they have been used for thousands of years by the Greeks, Romans and Persians. And now it’s our turn!
These particular Cardoons came from the backyard. I’m pretty lucky to have a few Artichoke plants. Before the flower buds start to grow I’ll cut off a few stalks and get busy in the kitchen. Cardoons are hard to find, try your local Farmers Markets or maybe a higher end grocery store. They’re a little more labor intensive then most vegetables and need to be trimmed of all the leaves on the sides before being peeled.
Note: When peeling Cardoons it is important to peel off all of the outer skin of the stalk. The fiberous stuff looks almost like string and you should remove as much as possible. Whats left of the stalk should be cut into 3 inch pieces and the wider parts should be cut in half so all of the pieces are as close to the same size as possible.
Next, make a brine to poached them. Poaching time is around 20 to 30 minutes. Because they are so fiberous they need a longer cook time to turn them into tender and delicious pieces.
6 cups water
1/3 cup Sherry Vinegar
1 tsp Chile flakes
2 Bay leaves
1/2 an Onion (sliced)
6 cloves Garlic (still in its husk)
4 sprigs of Thyme
3 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp of Black Peppercorns
Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid and put directly over Cardoons in a another pot. Bring to a boil and and cook the cardoons for a half an hour. Or let the poaching liquid cool and reserve it for later. After cooking the cardoons for a half an hour let let them cool down enough so you can handle them. Next, dredge them in flour (seasoned with salt and pepper) then eggs (also seasoned with a little salt and pepper) then coat with bread crumbs (bread crumbs with 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves chopped and mixed in). Now you’re ready to fry them. I like to use a blended oil; half olive oil and half canola oil. Fry until the outside is deep golden brown. Remove from oil and drain (I’ve used a brown paper bag to drain them). As soon as I get them out of the oil and on the bag, I grate some cheese over them.
Crispy fried Cardoons with grated Parmesan.