Thursday, 19 February 2015

Back to my Roots - Scorzonera

Just now the fare from the allotment is not too exciting, The brassicas are down to cabbage and kale with just the prospect of purple sprouting brocolli still to come.  Now the carrots are finished and there are only a couple of pounds of potatoes left in storage its parsnip and jerusalem artechoke time. But this year for novelty value I've also grown....  (drum roll) ....Scorzonera!!

The hardest part of growing these is harvesting these without snapping them. They readily grow to 12 inches or more. Also, as warned about in books, once you peel them they ooze a latex like substance. So you want to peel them and cook them very soon after, or otherwise keep them in acidulated water (add some lemon juice or vinegar) .  Internet research indicates that the great chef Escoffier had a way of cooking these "en blanc" - in a white sauce with shallots, but not being a great sauce fan I just chopped them up and boiled them like potatoes so as to reveal their essentilal characteristics. 
 I would describe their flavour (and texture) as being like a cross between potato and carrot.  This was a surprise as years ago I grew sister plant salsify and that was much sweeter - like sweetcorn -  and quickly broke down into a mush. Scorzonera is much better at retaining its structure.  For a mid winter novelty I would say they are well worth the effort. Flavour wise - don't get too excited.