. Difficulty: Medium
. Serves: 4 people
. Preparation time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Ingredients4 tablespoons butter, plus more for buttering dish
8 large cardoons
Fine sea salt to taste
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoon all p’urpose flour
Pinch grated nutmeg
¼ cup grated Grana Padano
¼ cup fine untoasted breadcrumbs
PreparationPreheat the oven to 350°F. butter a baking dish and set it aside. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Juice the lemon into the bowl and add the lemon half to the water.
Remove and discard any leaves from the cardoons. Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove any fibrous string (they should peel off easily). Cut the cardoons in half lengthwise, then into ½-inch pieces. Add the cardoons to the bowl with the ice water to prevent them from turning brown.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, season with salt and cook the cardoons until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork but not mushy, about 4 minutes. Drain the cardoons and set them aside to cool.
Place the milk in a small saucepan and heat very gently over low heat. Do not allow it to boil.
In a small sauté pan melt the 4 tablespoons butter over low heat. Gradually sprinkle in the flour to brown. Still whisking constantly and continue whisking for 2 minutes. Do not allow the flour to brown. Still whisking contantly, add the warm milk to the flour mixture in a thin stream. If the sauce begins to clump, stop adding milk and whisk until smooth, then resume. Season with a touch of salt and the nutmeg.
Toss the cardoons with the sauce and transfer to the prepared backing dish. Smooth the cardoons into an even layer. Combine the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top of the cardoons. Bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.