Saturday, September 20, 2008
I was on a nature walk at Sandy Hook where Jerusalem artichokes were growing wild everywhere. They are in the sunflower family—tall and beautiful in the autumn sun. Wild, or cultivated, the tuber is divinely delicious. Have you had them? I cooked them a lot when I grew them myself. Now I get them by the box-full from the flatland. Buuuuut, I wonder if anyone would notice if some disappeared from the Hook?
They are often called sunchokes in the stores and look sorta like ginger root. If you pull them yourself, keep the large ones and leave the smaller ones for next year. Some folks find them evasive. I have not had that problem, maybe because the winters are so much harsher here. Or maybe because when they are young and tender, the deer like them too.
Wash the choke but there is no need to peel it. The skin is thin and tender. They can be eaten raw or cooked. I prefer cooked; I think they have more flavor. They are wonderful in soups or gratins. Marcella Hazan (one of my favorite cookbook authors) has a few recipes using them. I usually chunk them and roast them with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and shallots at a high heat like 400. I sometimes throw in rosemary, just like I would with potatoes. To me they taste just like artichoke hearts. Be brave. Try them.