See the Recipe. Barbara Ries

Chef Michael Tusk of San Francisco’s Quince Restaurant gave us the recipe for this rich, woodsy version of sformato, a warm and savory Italian custard.

Yield: serves 6


  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
  • 34 cup flour
  • 6 14 cups milk
  • 2 14 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 7 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 oz. black trumpet mushrooms
  • 4 large shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 8 oz. black salsify or Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/4″-thick slices
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup canola oil


  1. Melt butter in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and light brown, 3–4 minutes. Slowly whisk in 6 cups milk; cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 15–20 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups Parmesan until smooth and season with salt; remove pan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in eggs. Divide béchamel sauce into 3 equal portions; set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a 12″ skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add half the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until any liquid evaporates and mushrooms turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1⁄4 cup mushroom mixture for garnish; set aside. Put remaining mushroom mixture into a blender with one-third of the reserved béchamel sauce; purée, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
  3. Heat remaining olive oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat. Add remaining shallots, salsify, thyme, and bay leaf and partially cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until salsify is tender but not browned, 10–12 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaf and set aside 1⁄4 cup of the salsify mixture. Place remaining salsify and one-third of the reserved béchamel sauce in a blender; purée, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
  4. Heat canola oil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°; add reserved salsify mixture and cook until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salsify to paper towels; reserve for garnish.
  5. Heat oven to 350°. Grease six 8-oz. ramekins with butter and transfer them to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Pour 1″ boiling water into baking dish. Put 1⁄3 cup reserved mushroom purée into each ramekin. Transfer baking dish to oven and bake until mushroom sformato is just set, about 5 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven and pour 1⁄3 cup salsify purée into each ramekin. Return baking dish to oven and bake until completely set and a toothpick inserted into the middle of each sformato comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. To serve, run the blade of a small paring knife around edges of the ramekins and invert each sformato onto a small plate. Heat remaining béchamel sauce, milk, and Parmesan in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat until hot, whisk until smooth, and spoon sauce around each sformato. Serve garnished with reserved mushrooms and fried salsify.