Now, when one thinks of delicious roasted veg, the Jerusalem artichoke is not necessarily what one would automatically come up with. These knobbly, lumpy, funny looking things are not exactly appetising in appearance, look like they would be a nightmare to peel, and all in all can leave one feeling a little uninspired when you see them dried up and dishevelled at the bottom of the cupboard.
These were my sentiments until I was introduced again to Mr Jerusalem this week. Our grower Rik, came in with a crate of freshly dug, dusky pink and pearly peach, misshaped lovelies on Thursday morning, and I must say I was very impressed. I never thought that the words “they look lovely!” would pass through my lips whilst looking at a root vegetable, but they did, and with much gusto.
These plants belong to the sunflower family, and its only the succulent tubers that are eaten. Other fun names include sunchoke and my favourite, earth apple. They are native to North America, and were brought over toEuropeby a French Explorer who described them as ‘tasting like artichokes’. This may well be the reason for the name, despite the Jerusalem artichoke being a sunflower! As far as nutrition is concerned, these roots are very rich in a carbohydrate called inulin. This substance encourages the natural bacteria in the gut, and so promotes digestive health, with the added humorous and anti social effects associated with intestinal movements! Maybe this is why not everybody likes them…
So, what to do with these delights! Soup and roasted are the most common ways to cook these roots, but look what I found: chicken and Jerusalem artichoke pie!! This is my adaptation from a recipe on the bbc food website.
- Butter for frying
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 white onion
- Two handfuls of button mushrooms
- 500gJerusalemartichokes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 2 springs of thyme
- 150ml white wine
- 300ml chicken stock
- 700g boneless chicken thighs
- Plain flour to thicken
- Ready made puff pastry
- Egg wash
Melt the butter with a little oil to stoop it burning (I use a big knob of butter, but its up to you really). Gently fry the onion and the garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms and artichokes, fry for another minute and then add the wine. Cook until the wine is well reduced. Sprinkle over a little flour (about 2 tablespoons) and add the stock slowly, stirring to make a sauce. Add the chicken and thyme, season with salt and pepper, cover, and leave to cook for around 10 minutes. Give it a stir, then transfer to a large casserole pot.
Roll out the pastry quite thinly, and lay the sheet over the pie filling, trimming off the edges so that it fits. Stick a hole in the top to let the steam out. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees, eggwash the pastry and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes. When the pastry is golden brown, reduce the heat to 190 degrees and cook for a further 25 minutes until cooked through and piping hot.