It was on a recent Saturday morning trip to the Halifax Brewery Market, that I was pleasantly surprised to see salsify amongst the vegetables being sold by Ted Hutten of Hutten Family Farm.
I had been introduced to salsify back in my Toronto days when Anthony Walsh, Executive Chef of Canoe, brought a box of it into the kitchen and asked me to cook with it. I had never seen or heard of these long black roots, nor did I expect them to have a beautiful white inner flesh. Anthony explained to me that they were salsify, also known as goatsbeard or oyster plant (they have an oyster-esque flavor), and that they were quite special. He peeled one for me, and the white flesh was amazing, but he proceeded to explain to me that the sticky sap that came out upon peeling was normal and that they had to immediately be put in acidulated water (water with lemon or a type of acid) so that they would not turn brown. So, speed peeler in hand I proceeded to peel with a vengeance and set them in the lemon water. “Now what?”, I asked my chef. Well, he told me that I could roast them, or puree them, or even turn them into a fancy soup. But, he did caution me, these black roots were very expensive, so one mistake and the price of this case was coming out of my pay! Aargh! Ok, let’s roast them I said. Cut into large pieces, I placed them in a hot pan and browned them with some butter and salt then covered them with a rich and unctuous veal demi-glace. Popped into the oven and roasted for ten minutes, these goatsbeards melted in my mouth!
I am sure that many of you don’t keep veal demi in your fridges, nor do I, so with my Ted Hutten salsify, I ended up placing them in a rich lamb stew, with a few other market vegetables that I had bought on that Saturday. If you get a chance to purchase a few of the tubers, please do so and experience the salsify for yourself!