Anything you can do with a potato you can do with a Jerusalem artichoke
JP McMahon: Lamb, Jerusalem artichokes and wild garlic. What could be more beautiful and more Irish?
‘Jerusalem artichokes are a firm February favourite of mine.’ Photograph: iStock
They arrived, all dirty and knobbly, looking more like a sad potato than a member of the sunflower family. For English writer Samuel Johnson, they gave excessive wind and were to be avoided at all costs, but Jerusalem artichokes are a firm February favourite of mine, being a great alternative to the potato.
Anything you can do with a potato you can do with a Jerusalem artichoke. You can eat them roasted, baked, fried, mashed, chipped, and that’s just to begin. They pair well with so many meats, including venison, chicken and beef.
My favourite way to use them is to purée them by peeling and simmering them in milk. When they’re soft, blend with a little butter. My idea of “little” is 100g – so just keep that in mind. Don’t forget to season with a nice sea salt to bring it all together. When cooking the meat that accompanies the purée, I prefer to just pan-fry it as the flavour of the purée packs a nice punch.
Many chefs like to roast the Jerusalem artichokes whole with oil, salt and fresh thyme. They roast quickly and you need to keep an eye on them as they collapse if cooked too much. Just cook them in a 180 degrees Celsius oven until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife.
Roasted Jerusalem artichokes work well with roast leg of lamb or whole roast salmon. There is plenty of wild garlic around, so that could be used to garnish the dish. Lamb, Jerusalem artichokes and wild garlic. What could be more beautiful and more Irish?
Jerusalem artichoke crisps
Currently in our cafe and wine bar Tartare, we serve Clare Island crab with Jerusalem artichoke crisps. These are a firm favourite with our customers and are very simple to make. The only drawback is you need a deep fat fryer.
The Irish aversion to fryers is deep, as we harbour strange irrational fears of burning down the house with them.
Set the fryer to 140 degrees. Slice the Jerusalem artichokes super thin and fry them until crisp. Season with salt while they are still hot and serve immediately.