This recipe is most often associated with the French city of Tours, near which, it is said, the biggest and best cardoons are grown.
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 lb. cardoons
- 1 cup grated gruyere
Place cream, stock, and bay leaf in a large saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Wash cardoons, then remove and discard tough outer stalks. Cut away thorns and pull off stringy fibers. Cut cardoons into 1½"–2" pieces, placing them immediately into cream mixture as you go, to prevent them from discoloring.
Bring cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until cardoons are tender, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cardoon pieces to individual gratin dishes (or a 1-quart baking dish).
Preheat oven to 350°. Reduce cream mixture to about ¾ cup over medium heat, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf and divide reduced sauce equally between gratin dishes, sprinkle gruyère on top, and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.