“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's That Time Again

It's that time again, folks. Time for the answer to Name This Food! So did you know it?

If you said sunroot, sunchoke, Jerusalem Artichoke, topinambur or earth apple, you were right!

So what is it? The Jerusalem artichoke, funnily enough, is actually a species of sunflower native to the United States that is cultivated for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.

So what does it taste like? Well, its texture and consistency are similar to that of the potato, but with a sweeter, nuttier flavour. You can cook it, or slice it thinly for use in salads.

The carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mushy if boiled, but they retain their texture better when steamed. The inulin is not well digested by some people, leading in some cases to flatulence and gastric pain. Gerard's Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes:
"which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men."

In the 1980s, the Jerusalem artichoke also gained some notoriety when its seeds were planted by midwestern US farmers at the prodding of an agricultural pyramid scheme. There was little market for the tuber in that part of the US at the time, but farmers were assured that it would soon appear on the commodities market. Unfortunately, the only profits were realized by the initial distributors and the first few levels of farmers (who sold their seeds to subsequent levels of the pyramid). As a result many of the farms which had planted large acreage of the crop were ruined.

So how should you prepare them? Well, if you've never tried them, go steady at first- they're delicious but as it says above, they do tend to cause a bit of gas.

To boil or steam them: Scrub the artichokes well - no need to peel, unless you want to.
Boil or steam, whole, for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft. If you slice them first, add some lemon juice to the water, to stop them discolouring, and cook for just 5 to 10 minutes.

You can also saute, fry or mash them, or use them in a soup, such as the one below:

Jerusalem Artichoke and Hazelnut Soup

Serves 4.

400g Jerusalem artichokes (about 8)
1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted & ground
2 tbsp sherry, Marsala or apple juice
4 thyme sprigs, leaves only
600ml chicken or veg stock, warmed
2 tbsp cream (optional)

Scrub your Jerusalem artichokes clean. Otherwise, you'll end up with a really earthy (literally) taste! Use a pastry brush to get into all the little nooks.

Pop butter and oil into a pot with a wide bottom - this will help your veggies caramelise and cook faster. Place over medium heat, when the butter starts to foam, toss the onions in and cook slowly, over medium‐low heat for 15‐20 minutes, until they're really golden.

Thinly slice Jerusalem artichokes (you can leave the skin on). Add to onions, along with garlic, pop lid on. Sweat for 20‐30mins, stirring every 5mins, until they're really soft.

Add hazelnuts, stir. Splash in the sherry. Let it sizzle for a few minutes, then add thyme leaves and stock. Blitz until smooth, season and, if you feel like it, finish with cream.

Anyway, what's the food this week?

Name This Food!

1 comment:

Come on and chew the fat!


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