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At Eleven Madison Park, cooks first strip the flower of its colorful petals and fibrous stem. Then they plunge it three times into boiling water, then an ice bath. Once dry, the sunflower heart is braised until tender in a rich barigoule sauce of white wine, onion, fennel, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon—a riff on a classic artichoke preparation. The chef cakes one side with buttery brioche crust crumbs and sears it until it’s a perfect golden-brown disc.
The intricate process ensures “that all the floral aroma from the sunflower is gone, because the flower tastes so floral that it’s horrible,” Eleven Madison Park representative Sarah Rosenberg told us. “It’s like a wheat grass perfume.” Not all that appetizing, unlike Eleven Madison Park’s version, which tastes like an artichoke heart that’s somehow (impossibly) artichoke-i-er.
Didn’t realize sunflower hearts are edible? Don’t feel too badly about it: Even John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, hasn’t tried eating one. Nor has he ever come across a recipe for sunflower heart or seen such a dish featured on a restaurant menu. ”I’ve never even heard of it,” Sandbakken told us.
sunflower parmesan,starts very like this, but after braising the sunflowers are dipped in seasoned flour then egg wash then parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and deep fried or drizzled with olive oil and baked then topped with some mozzarella and marinara sauce. My favorite.