contributed by Local Roots member + cookbook author + creator of Not Eating Out in NY @CathyErway
(makes about 4 servings)
1 lb burdock root
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk (or half-and-half)
1/2 teaspoon flour (more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
pinch of dried herbes de provence (optional)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, mixed with salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste
Thoroughly peel the burdock roots and trim the ends so you only have long, white stalks. Slice them as thinly and as uniformly as you can across their lengths, into small rounds.
Bring a pot of water to boil and add a couple pinches of salt. Once boiling, add the sliced burdock roots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the flour to incorporate into a smooth paste. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring frequently, for another 2-3 minutes. In a separate pot meanwhile, heat up the milk or half-and-half until it's very warm but not boiling. Before it begins to boil, remove it from heat. Then, pour it into the flour and butter mixture while stirring rapidly. Continue stirring to blend it all in and allow it to thicken. Once the sauce is thick, bubbling and uniform in texture, add the salt, pepper, and optional spices. Remove from heat, and stir in the cooked and drained burdock root slices thoroughly to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, adding any more salt, pepper, or spices to your taste. You could also add a bit more milk or half-and-half if your mixture seems too thick.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer the mixture to a small baking dish—an oval gratin dish is the perfect one for this usage, but if you don't have one, a small square one is great, or a round pie dish works just as well, too. Top it evenly with the breadcrumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust has become a little golden and the dish is bubbling or oozing a bit. Let cool a minute or two before serving.