Jerusalem Artichokes or How I Finally Get Around To What Jamie Oliver's Always Told Me
Well, not me personally. But in his books and his shows he is constantly banging on about jerusalem artichokes. In the first Naked Chef series, I remember him cooking some up with his little poussins for Christmas dinner. Now I am, ahem, a bit stubborn. When something gets rammed down my throat, I tend to ignore it. Repeatedly. So the more I heard about jerusalem artichokes, the firmer became my resolve not to try them. (Figman said to me "You must have been a difficult child"!)
But I was walking around the Prahran Markets with something approaching a shopping list when I came across a small sackful marked "artichokes". My list did include artichokes, I think I had aspirations of some fancy-dan salad. But these were obviously not artichokes. I mean, if you can't tell the difference between an artichoke and a jerusalem artichoke, then all I can say is that your cooking is going to be very intriguing. Ahem.
The jerusalem artichokes were small and knobbly and didn't look that difficult to cook, so I scooped some up and went forth. Jamie Oliver and Stephanie Alexander have different methods of preparation - he is for the straightforward scrub, while she prefers the peel. They are a great deal easier to peel once some of the knobblier bits have been cut off but I didn't find it too tedious a task. It only becomes laborious when you look down and see how many you've still got to go!
They do discolour slightly but I didn't bother with the acidulated water. They were being peeled, chopped and thrown in with a leg of lamb as it roasted. The beauty of this is that they cook very quickly, so a lazy cook like me can prep them as I go.
Jerusalem artichokes have a lovely nutty taste. I roasted them with sweet potato and the contrast between flavours was great. It might be a little mild to enjoy on its own, unless you are deliberately seeking subtle. They have a GI value of 50 (same as sweet potato) and 3g of carb per 100.
I found these lovely ones at Fernleigh Farm, just outside of Daylesford. Owner Fiona Chambers told me that they had just been dug that morning and their crisp white flesh covered in rich earth seemed to confirm it! These ones were at least twice the size of those at the markets and absolutely delicious. I am in danger of becoming a convert ...
So I might have to admit that occasionally Jamie Oliver knows what he's going on about. Ahem.