As I wandered through the produce section of DeCicco's, I saw them suddenly on the shelf, like a vision from Heaven: Jerusalem artichokes. This guy in my office, Pete, is a foodie extraordinaire. A real gourmand. And we're always talking shop about menus, particularly around the holidays. A couple of years ago at Christmas, I was planning to make a beef tenderloin, and I asked Pete what I should serve alongside. He came back with roasted brussels sprouts with Jerusalem artichokes. Brilliant, I thought, for I'd long wanted to try these things.
Foist of all, the Jerusalem Artichoke is neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke.
These are actually the roots, or tubers, of the wild sunflower Helianthus tuberosus. I'd heard them described as a cross between a potato and a water chestnut, and always described as very, very good. After Pete's suggestion, I wanted so much to make them for Christmas dinner, except there was one problem: I couldn't find them. I searched grocery stores and Asian food markets, high and low. Here was one of the most prolific, nearly-invasive plants in the country and I couldn't find one tuber.
And now here they were at DeCicco's, packaged as "Sunchokes" and smiling at me benevolently, seeming to say, "Take me home, darling..."
So I did.
There were nine chokes in the package, and one thing I've learned over the years is never to make a lot of something you're making for the very first time. So I scrubbed up four of the chokes and sliced them 1/4" thick. Then I peeled and sliced three carrots, peeled and smashed three cloves of garlic, and cleaned the outer leaves off a handful of the teensiest, tiniest brussels sprouts I'd ever seen in my life (did I mention I love DeCicco's?)
I tossed all with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and roasted on a baking sheet for an hour at 375, tossing occasionally so that the sliced sunchokes got good and browned on both sides.
Delicious with the tarragon chicken!! I snuck a slice of sunchoke on each kid's plate and they ate them, no questions asked, thinking they were potatoes.