It’s time we embrace Jerusalem artichokes

My favourite way to prepare this vegetable is to make a nutty purée to go with white fish

 Jerusalem artichokes are  wonderfully diverse and can be cooked pretty much like a potato. Photograph: iStock

Jerusalem artichokes are wonderfully diverse and can be cooked pretty much like a potato. Photograph: iStock

 

It was the great Monica Sheridan who bemoaned the fate of Jerusalem artichokes, writing in her book Monica’s Kitchen (1963) that they “lie around neglected on greengrocers’ shelves”.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

Saying that, she does describe them as “potatoes with warts on them”, so perhaps you can understand people’s aversion to them. Despite this, she does conclude they are “fit for a king” when peeled, cooked and smothered in “Hollandaise sauce or melted butter”. 

For me, November is the time for artichokes. They are wonderfully diverse and can be cooked pretty much like a potato. Though they are a tuberous starchy vegetable, they’re probably better for your waist. I don’t know if this is because they’re lower on the GI index, or just that they’re harder to eat (Jerusalem artichokes chips are beautiful, but they don’t meet the amazingness of a triple cooked chip).

My favourite way to prepare Jerusalem artichokes is to make a nutty purée to accompany white fish such as cod or gurnard. Salting your fish beforehand will firm up its texture and help it hold together during cooking. You don’t need much. Just a little sprinkle on both sides and allow it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

Knobbly artichokes can be dirty and hard to clean, so if you are roasting them, try to pick the straighter ones. The knobbly ones are better for purée as you can just cut off the “warts”. If you boil them, the skin will, according to Sheridan, “slip off like a velvet glove”. 

How to make Jerusalem artichoke purée 

Peel 750g of artichokes, roughly chop them and placed in acidulated water to prevent oxidisation. They brown a lot quicker than a potato so be careful or it will ruin the colour of your purée.

Place a little oil and 50g of butter in a pot and cook the artichokes until nicely brown. Add 150ml of milk and 150ml of cream and simmer until the artichokes are soft. Cover the pot with a lid as the steam will help cook them. When the artichokes are soft, transfer them to a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with sea salt to taste. 

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