After all the complicated cooking over the holidays, I felt like making something simple. I felt I should give salsify another chance (especially after Eha had proclaimed it her favorite vegetable), and I had picked up some guinea fowl breasts. I decided to cook both sous-vide (no surprises there) and to pair them with a porcini mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. This made for a fine meal.
Salsify is also known as poor man’s asparagus. It looks a bit similar, but it is a lot harder to clean and doesn’t have as much flavor. I had tried breaded and deep-fried salsify before. That was nice, but the flavor of the breading overpowered the flavor of the salsify (even though it was just bread crumbs!). I had also tried it sous-vide, but againt he flavor was so subtle that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Then I thought of my favorite solution for boosting the flavor of vegetables: roasting them in the oven. So I parcooked the salsify and then roasted them. The result was salsify with flavor! But still a delicate flavor that went well with the delicate flavor of the guinea fowl and the woody flavor of the porcini sauce. Here’s what I did.
For 2 servings
1 guinea fowl breast fillet (two halves)
flour for dusting
450 grams (1 lb) salsify
a bit of lemon juice (or powdered Vitamin C)
25 grams (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp heavy cream
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
mashed potatoes made from 500 grams (1.1 lb) potatoes
4 Tbsp (clarified) butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vacuum seal them with fresh thyme and cook sous-vide for 3 hours at 57ºC/135ºF. This time and temperature combination is enough to pasteurize the guinea fowl, and due to the low temperature the meat will be tender and juicy rather than dry.
Use gloves to peel the salsify. They give off a sticky juice that will stain your hands and is difficult to wash off. Salsify are known as “kitchen maid’s sorrow” in the Netherlands (keukenmeidenverdriet) because of this.
Cook them sous-vide for 15 minutes at 88ºC/190ºF. Since the sous-vide cooker was already occupied for the guinea fowl, I did this in a regular pot with a digital thermometer. For cooking vegetables it is OK if you manage to keep the temperature between 85ºC and 90ºC (or between 185ºF and 195ºF).
This is best with an oaked dry white wine. The oak goes well with the woody character of the salsify and the mushroom sauce. A very light red could also work, but with delicate white meat like this, white wine is the best choice.
Two years ago I blogged about a pretty successful attempt to recreate a dish I’d had at a two-star Michelin restaurant near Naples, Torre del Saracino, just based on my memory of the dish: pasta with cauliflower, oyster, and pecorino cheese. Back then I wrote: “On December 23 we had dinner at one of the best restaurants in Italy, La Torre del Saracino in Vico Equense. The chef Gennaro Esposito is a master at making very simple local dishes with high-quality but simple ingredients taste delicious. The simplicity can be a bit misleading, because you don’t get two Michelin stars for ordinary food. Since we liked one of the dishes with oysters, cauliflower, pecorino cheese and pasta so much, I decided to have a go at recreating it from memory. I did not ask the chef how he had made it, I just tried to remember what I had tasted and thought how I would do it. The result was obviously not as good as at the restaurant, but still quite pleasing. Since it’s a very original recipe and not that hard to do, I’m sharing it with you below.”