17 June 2015

The Broad Fork

We have posted a lot about Hugh Acheson’s The Broad Fork on our Facebook page, but it seems time to write about the book here. So here goes.  The Broad Fork grew out of a conversation with a fellow CSA member who asked a simple question: “What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?”

Indeed.  We learn to cook because someone taught us how, and we cook foods that we are familiar with, and if not, we learn to cook foods that we like and want to make at home.  So, what the hell does one do with kohlrabi?  

Our “what the hell” is artichokes. Don’t have them in the garden, don’t like to clean them, don’t like to eat them, don’t want them in my CSA!  Hey everyone has a veggie they hate!  Truth of the matter is, there are tons of vegetables out there that have very creative uses without boiling them in some salted water and slathering them with butter.

Hugh Acheson sets out to give the reader a look at many creative ways to showcase vegetables or a showcase for many creative vegetables.  The book is helpful, insightful, and never makes you feel like you are getting a lecture about not eating more vegetables.  He is funny, giving the impression that he would never come into your to kitchen and shout obscenities at you for minor kitchen infractions. In fact, he writes like he is exactly the kind of person you would want to let into your kitchen. 

Acheson would, as he does in this cookbook, make fun of you for having a refrigerator door with, “stuff in there from the 1990’s.”  For his Tatsoi Salad he will tell you, “No tatsoi? No problem. Use spinach or bok choy.”  But he will also tell you that tatsoi is “resplendent” so get some for your salads.  The first restaurant he worked in featured fried zucchini with, “the tenderness and attention to detail of a drunken sailor,” and from that experience he fries up green beans. Funny and helpful.

So how does Hugh Acheson answer the question: “What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?” 

Kohlrabi Puree
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 pound kohlrabi, peeled and chopped, greens and stems reserved for garnish
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
Kosher salt

1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Add the onion and then the kohlrabi. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them with the butter. Then add the chicken stock and the thyme sprig. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then turn back down to simmer.  Place a round of parchment paper on top of the mixture, and simmer until the kohlrabi is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

2. Transfer the mixture to a blender, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and puree until smooth. Season with kosher salt to taste. Serve alongside finely sliced reserved kohlrabi stems and greens.

Pureed kohlrabi is the perfect side dish for a big ol’ steak, not to mention at least two folks at the table will ask you,  “What the hell did you do to the potatoes?”

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