In the words of Artusi, cardoon is a healthy garden vegetable, easy to digest and refreshing, but tasteless. Cardoons are also known as "gobbi” (hunchback) in Tuscany because people grow them by bending the stem underground or covering the stems with paper in order for the vegetable to remain tender and white. Once a popular winter vegetable it is still used for special occasions. Chiara Brandi shares her memories and her beloved family recipe. by Chiara Brandi - Forchettina giramondo “This dish is heavily inspired by the flavors of home. Those of Aunt Albertina’s kitchen when she used to cook the cardoon pie, filling the hole left by the mould with chicken livers" Ingredients: Serves 4 - 200 g of rice - 4 cardoons - vegetable broth - 1 white onion - extra virgin olive oil , salt, pepper, nutmeg - 250g of béchamel - 2 eggs - 300 g. of chicken livers - some butter (a knob of butter) - 2 tablespoons of Vin Santo (dessert wine) - ½ lemon - baking soda Preparation: - Clean the cardoons removing the external part. Cut them into cubes and put them in water with two teaspoons of baking soda and lemon juice. Rinse the chicken livers. - Cook the cardoons in water and once tender, transfer the vegetables in to a pot with cold water. - Gently fry the onions, add the chicken livers and cook everything over a low heat. - Turn up the heat, sprinkle in two tablespoons of Vin Santo and allow to evaporate. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool. - Finely chop the cardoons, for ease use a blender. -In a saucepan, gently fry the remaining half of the onion with extra virgin olive oil, add the finely chopped cardoons and cook the rice in the broth. Season with salt and pepper. - Let the mixture cool completely, add the béchamel, the eggs, a generous grating of nutmeg and mix well. - At this point you can put the mixture in single molds or in a baking pan. - Remember to cover moulds with butter and to sprinkle breadcrumbs before adding the mixture. Bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes. - Serve the pie with the choped chicken livers. Enjoy your meal! About Chiara Brandi Mom, marketing expert and proudly Florentine. She loves to travel, cook and learn all about food.
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