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There were so many radishes in the farmers market that I just had to buy a few bunches.  I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but they were irresistible and only $1 a bunch.  We ate some chilled, with sweet butter and sea salt, tossed some in salads, and then I did the classic French side dish, radishes braised in butter to accompany some grilled chicken breasts.  You never see cooked radishes on menus anymore, but this braise is a very traditional French summer dish.  If you use bright red radishes, they will lose quite a bit of their color when cooked.

2 bunches crisp radishes
3 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth or even water
½ to 1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Trim the radishes, leaving just a bit of the stem.  Scrub them well as dirt can often cling around the stem and root end.  If they have stringy rootlets, pull these off and discard them.
Melt the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold the radishes in a single layer over medium heat.  Add the radishes, stock, and sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Cover, lower the heat, and braise for about 20 minutes or until easily pierced with the point of a small sharp knife.
Remove from the heat, stir in the zest, and serve.

 

©StephenKolyer_Radish

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Some years ago when my beautiful “almost daughter” Anne and her husband, Henry, bought their dreamed-of house in the south of France we made a quick visit just as they were moving in.  Anne said “it’s so hot, don’t bring anything but summer clothes” – well, you know what happened.  It was cold as the blazes, we couldn’t figure out how to work the heat, and the blankets weren’t yet unpacked.  So, we made lots of excursions in their tiny car trying to keep warm.  One of the excursions took us on a lunch quest to La Bastide de Moustiers, Chef Alain Ducasse’s auberge in the hills of Provence.  As we waited to be seated we were served the house aperitif, a Sonaillo made with a local liqueur, and a bowl full of crisp, ever-so-slightly pungent French breakfast radishes with sweet, sweet butter and sea salt.  A simple but extraordinary beginning to a delightful meal.

This is a very long – and perhaps not too interesting – introduction to my visit to the farmers market on Saturday where the loveliest bunch of spring time French breakfast radishes brought the memory right back.  I, of course, bought them and planned a quiet cocktail hour with my house cocktail – Aperol and Processco with a slice of orange – and the same presentation of radishes, sweet butter (Kate’s from Vermont), and sea salt.  What we got was a bunch of pithy, soggy miserable radishes – they looked absolutely luscious – as Steve’s photo shows – but what a disappointment.  Chalk it up to another example of being not able to tell a book by its cover.

 

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