You can cook Jerusalem artichokes as you would potatoes, but expect something more when they greet your palate. Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, have personality in their flavor, a mild nuttiness you won't find in other tubers. Go ahead and prepare Jerusalem artichokes using common techniques, such as frying, boiling and roasting, but prepare your taste buds for an uncommon delight.
Preparing Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes' knobby texture makes peeling their thin skin cumbersome, and you lose a lot of usable flesh in the process. Peeling is optional, but a thorough scrubbing isn't, so rinse Jerusalem artichokes under cool, running water and use a vegetable brush to remove the debris in the crevices. Squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a bowl of water before you slice Jerusalem artichokes, as their flesh oxidizes quickly and turns a rosy pink color within a couple minutes of exposure to oxygen. Submerge the sliced sunchokes in the lemon water as soon as you cut them.
Roasting Jerusalem Artichokes
Oven-roasting Jerusalem artichokes quickly and with high heat gives their flesh a tender, yet toothsome, bite and their exterior a pleasant crispness, similar to roasted potatoes but with an ethereal texture and a mild, nutty flavor. To oven-roast Jerusalem artichokes, cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces; wedge, cube or baton shapes all work. Place the diced Jerusalem artichokes in lemon water as you cut them, then drain and pat them dry with a paper towel while the oven heats to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the Jerusalem artichokes with olive oil, melted butter or, to add some meatiness, rendered bacon fat. Season to taste with kosher salt and roast them in a baking pan until the outside caramelizes and the flesh tenderizes, about 20 minutes. Test tenderness by inserting a paring knife in the flesh.
Frying Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes respond well to all types of frying -- deep, shallow and saute. For example, you can julienne Jerusalem artichokes and add them to a stir fry in the last five minutes of cooking for a crisp finish. For an intriguing twist on a French classic -- Lyonnaise potatoes -- slice Jerusalem artichokes crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick disks and fry them in about 1/2 inch of oil along with sliced onions. Finish by tossing the Jerusalem artichokes and onions with freshly torn parsley and seasoning to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also make sunchoke fries by cutting them into 2-inch-long, 1/4-inch wide pieces and deep-frying them like you would potatoes. Jerusalem artichoke fries cook to golden brown in three to four minutes.
Boiled Jerusalem Artichokes
You can boil Jerusalem artichokes as you would potatoes, and use them in the same ways -- pureed for soups and mashed as a side dish, for example. But Jerusalem artichokes' flavor adds another dimension to the typical boiled-tuber preparations. Boiling Jerusalem artichokes for soups or for mashing is one case where you should peel them because they will have a much smoother texture. Boil Jerusalem artichokes until tender -- about 15 minutes for cubed Jerusalem artichokes and 25 minutes for whole -- then puree or mash them.
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A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.
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