Wild Thistle Cheese with Baby Artichoke Confit

January 31, 2013

This unique and delicious dish consists of homemade cheese made from wild thistle. In lieu of using animal or other vegetable rennets, thistle rennet is used to coagulate the milk solids. The result is a slightly floral and tangy flavor. This recipe comes from Executive Chef John Cox of the award-winning Sierra Mar Restaurant at Big Sur's Post Ranch Inn.

Wild Thistle Cheese with Baby Artichoke Confit

wild thistle

Wild Thistle Cheese
4 wild thistles (you can easily forage for this easy to find plant)
2 cups water
1.5 gallons milk
.5 gallons buttermilk
1 cup Crème Fraiche
1 tbs sea salt
Bring 2 cups of water to 130 degrees- add the stamens from 4 wild thistles and steep for 1 hour- strain through a coffee filter
Bring 1.5 gal whole milk and .5 gal buttermilk to 130 degrees- add the cardoon thistle water and continue to hold at low heat until curd rises- 45 minutes.
Strain the curd into a chinoise and allow to drain for 1 hour. 
Mix the curd with kosher salt and 1 cup crème fraiche.
Fennel and Artichoke Confit
12 baby Artichoke Hearts cut in Half
2 fennel bulbs cut into ½ inch slices
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
4 branches thyme
1 tbs kosher salt
5 cups olive oil
Put all ingredients in pot. Make sure everything is covered in oil. Put pot in 250 degree oven for 2 hours or until artichokes are tender.
Artichoke Chips
2 raw artichokes
6 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
Kosher salt
Oil for frying
Slice Artichoke into thin rounds. 
Soak artichoke slices in mix of cold water and cornstarch for 3 hours
Remove artichokes and fry in 350 degree oil until bubbles stop
Drain on paper towels
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Society Garlic Flowers
Sweet Alyssum Flowers
Bronze Fennel Fronds
Shaved Meyer Lemon
Cracked Black Pepper
Maldon Sea Salt