Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How NOT to cook with Jerusalem Artichokes

Ever since I had a jerusalem artichoke (also known as a sunchoke), at The Shed at Glenwood ages ago, I've been wanting to experiment with cooking them. Turns out these tubors are neither artichokes, nor related to Jerusalem. In fact, they're the tuber end of a sunflower. Go figure.

So I picked some up at Whole Foods yesterday and decided to whip some up tonight for my sick hubby. I searched for recipes and didn't find a ton out there. There were sunchoke pickles, and purees, and the recipe I found offered a lightly fried version from Jamie Oliver.

Granted I knew right up front that the recipe was worryingly vague. But I'm a pretty good cook, right? I can wing it! Or so I thought. I followed Jamie's charmingly nonspecific directions to lightly fry the 'chokes in olive oil until golden brown, then throw in some garlic, bay leaves, white wine vinegar and s&p, and cover. I had a feeling that medium heat for 25 minutes as he recommended would be a disaster on my always very hot burner, so I turned it down a bit.

Excited to take a bite in the meantime, I picked one morsel out and found it to be unappealingly bitter. Maybe if they cook for longer they'll mellow, I wondered? But alas it was not to be - they were generally terrible. Oh so bitter (burnt garlic perhaps?) I feel like I followed his directions, and in fact cooked even more conservatively given the lower heat, so I am bummed. I hate botching recipes! Oh well, everyone screws up sometime?

© David Loftus
Don't they look like they should be delicious?

I tried to choke (ha ha, get it!?!) down a few to see if there were any redeeming qualities, but seriously they just sucked. Bitter, still too firm and all round terrible. Boo! I'd still like to try them again sometime, but perhaps I need a better recipe or a sunchoke cooking tutorial.

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