As mentioned yesterday, I've been trying out some new ingredients in the kitchen and will be telling you about them as I go. Today: Jerusalem Artichokes, or the sunchoke.
1. Purchase unusual ingredient.
I didn't even know what Jerusalem artichokes looked like. But I saw a sign for them at the store saying they were from a local farm and felt compelled to try them after hearing about them for years. The sign was surrounded by a variety of vegetables and I wasn't sure which item it referred to. By process of elimination, I picked up two small knobs that looked like a cross between ginger and a potato. When I went to check out, the clerk asked me what they were. I had to laugh and say that I thought they were Jerusalem artichokes but wasn't really sure. The man behind me in line confirmed for us that they were indeed. Whew.
2. Prepare unusual ingredient.
After a little internet research, I found that some people peel them, others don't bother. Having just two little sunchokes to work with, I peeled one and left the other with skin. There was general agreement that simple roasting is a fine way to enjoy the flavor for a newbie. So, I preheated the oven to 375º, chopped them into bite-sized pieces, coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted away. I waited until they got nice and browned — ten minutes or so.
3. Taste unusual ingredient.
I tasted my lovely roasted Jerusalem artichokes and came to this conclusion: Tasty? Yes. Mild but distinct flavor. Good texture. I preferred those with the skin to without. It gave them an earthier, stronger flavor. Would I go out of my way to hunt these babies down? No, not really. Given the fanaticism with which I've heard people talk about them, I guess I expected them to rock my world. I think they would be a great addition to stews or pot pie. Maybe mixed together with some potatoes for mashing.
Hey, that's just my two cents. At least now I can say I've tried a Jerusalem artichoke. Aha! The title of a new regular feature here on SGF!