Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

I don't know if you know this about Jerusalem artichokes, but they are neither from Jerusalem nor artichokes. Perhaps you've never even heard of a Jerusalem artichoke/sunchoke before. In that case, I can tell you that it's the tuber from a type of flower similar to the sunflower that is native to North America. I was thrilled to get sunchokes in the final delivery of our summer Pigman's CSA, because I'd never prepared, eaten, or even seen them before. I decided to roast them along with the sirloin tip roast we were having (from our quarter of beef).

Sunchokes, scrubbed and peeled*
Seasoning, if desired

Preheat the oven. I preheated ours to 300 degrees F, because that's the temperature I was using to somewhat slowly cook the sirloin tip roast around which I nestled the sunchokes. But if you were just doing sunchokes, you could probably turn up the heat to 350 or more. They'd roast more quickly that way and perhaps brown better; you'd just have to keep an eye on them. Anyway, place the sunchokes in an oven-safe dish. Roast them in the preheated oven until they're fairly tender; a sharp knife should pierce all the way through one without much difficulty when they're tender. (Ours probably took an hour or more to cook at 300 degrees F.) Season the roasted sunchokes if you like.

* As you can probably tell from the photo above, I didn't actually peel the sunchokes before roasting them. I had read that the peel was edible, so I just scrubbed the sunchokes really well. It turns out that you can indeed eat the peel. But despite all my efforts at scrubbing, the sunchokes were still gritty. (Now that's some seriously tenacious earth.) After inadvertently polishing my teeth a bit with the grit from one piece of roasted sunchoke, I decided to peel the rest. It would've been significantly easier, I think, to do so before roasting. I certainly will next time.

These were decent in texture and flavor, but I'm going to withhold final judgment until I can try this recipe again with peeled sunchokes. The grittiness and post-roast peeling process made it difficult for me to give them a fair trial this time.

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