Hoosier poke sprouts

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
\N \N 16 to 20 poke sprouts
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
½ teaspoon Salt
\N \N Black pepper; to taste
½ cup Mild Cheddar cheese; grated
12 slices Crisp-fried bacon or
4 slices Canadian bacon
4 \N Squares buttered toast or
4 \N English muffins buttered and toasted
1 tablespoon Chives; chopped

Gather poke sprouts in the early spring when they are 6 to 8 inches tall, snapping off the entire stalk with its unfurling leaves above the ground, as you would pick asparagus.

Clean the poke sprouts and boil them gently in salted water to cover, until the stalks are just tender. Drain sprouts and keep them warm until served.

While poke sprouts are cooking, make a white sauce of the butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper. As the sauce thickens, stir in the Cheddar cheese; continue cooking until cheese is blended.

Have ready and keep warm the slices of bacon, drained well, and the buttered toast.

For each serving, top a toasted bread slice with 3 slices of bacon and put 4 or 5 poke sprouts on top. Cover the poke sprouts with cheese sauce and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Note: Poke sprouts can be forced indoors in a flat in wintertime. In late autumn, dig the roots of at least two dozen pokeweed plants.

Chop off each large root about six inches from the crown and plant in a large, earth-filled box with the crown portions barely covered.

Take the box indoors to the cellar after freezing weather has set in, and keep it watered. Or place in a garage or on a porch where the temperature does not go below freezing, and invert a cardboard box over the top. In a few weeks, each crown will produce several crops of blanched poke sprouts which can be cut for use as soon as they have reached a height of about eight inches. Do not let the sprouts grow tall enough to develop purple coloring in the stalks. After the sprouts are cut, another crop will grow.

Use the sprouts in recipes calling for asparagus. Dandelions and chicory can be forced by the same method. The blanched greens are very tender and mild.

From "The Wild Flavor" by Marilyn Kluger. Los Angeles: Jeremy P.

Tarcher, Inc., 1984. Pp. 79, 88-89. ISBN 0-87477-338-5. Posted by Cathy Harned.

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