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WHAT CHEFS ARE DOING WITH DANDELION GREENS




Detested by gardeners, spurned by eaters—the dandelion has it tough. In the right hands, though, the supernutritious leaves can become anything from a crunchy component of a salad to a tender, hearty contrast to seafood or pork. At Pops for Champagne, chef Andrew Brochu crisps up the raw greens in an ice bath, then tosses them in a curry vinaigrette, providing a bitter component to his small plate of sweet crab “packets”: lump crab–filled rice-paper rolls served with dandelion, avocado puree and curried mayonnaise. (601 N State St, 312-266-7677)

Add some heat—and patience—and the dandelion leaves turn from tough to tender. At his River North restaurant graham elliot, chef Graham Elliot Bowles sweats garlic and onions in rendered bacon fat, then adds the dandelion greens with a pinch of brown sugar and a dash of sherry vinegar, then cooks them down for 45 minutes—a classic Southern technique for cooking greens. He serves his Berkshire pork chop atop braised dandelion leaves, accompanied by toasted farro and a cherry-and-pickled-ramp mostarda and finished with a rosemary pork jus. (217 W Huron St, 312-624-9975).

Like Bowles’s low-and-slow method, boiling the greens helps to mellow out their bitterness. At Wicker Park newcomer Taxim, chef-owner David Schneider turns the vegetable into horta, a traditional Greek preparation of dandelion greens served alongside whole-roasted tsipoura, a sweet white fish. “It’s a dish my grandmother always has waiting for me when I get in from the airport,” Schneider explains of the greens, which he blanches twice, then sautĂ©es in olive oil with garlic and hits with a squeeze of lemon. (1558 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-252-1558).

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