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.
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 choke [Editor’s note – that’s what she said] on each kid’s plate and they ate them, no questions asked, thinking they were potatoes.