A Bitten Word Recipe
We mentioned again recently how fun it can be to cook with ingredients you've never tried before, like sweet potato greens.
Well, here's something else you might not be familiar with: sunchokes.
You may know them as "Jerusalem artichokes," but that name is falling out of favor, mostly because, well, they're neither from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes.
If you've never tried sunchokes, we're going to have you salivating by the end of this paragraph. They're one of our favorite "new" vegetables, and we absolutely love them for fall. They taste something like a cross between a potato and a rutebega, only richer, nuttier and sweeter. Pan-roasted with a little bit of butter and oil? Heaven.
The first time we cooked with them was almost like a dare. We saw them at the farmers market, and, frankly, they looked so ugly we just had to try them. We bought a couple of stalks, brought 'em home and then tried to figure out what to do with them.
As we normally do in such situations of culinary confusion, we turned to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. It's a true kitchen Bible, and it has helped us figure out the best ways to handle countless ingredients we've come across. It was Bittman who taught us that the sunchokes don't have to be peeled. And in his book, he suggests par-boiling the sunchokes and then finishing them in a skillet with oil.
Us? We're lazy. We've found the par-boiling step to be unnecessary. It's much simpler -- and equally tasty -- to just sauté everything together in essentially one step.
The preparation here is incredibly forgiving. If the sunchokes are getting too dry, add a little water to the pan. If they're getting crisp too early for your dinner, just turn the heat to low (or even off), and then reheat them before serving. If they're not cooking fast enough, well, turn up the heat (but be sure to stir them more frequently).
The result? The perfect autumn side dish that's a perfect stand-in for potatoes. It's hearty and rich, with crisp, crunchy edges surrouding little discs of warm, soft, nutty sweetness.
The next time you see these ugly little guys, don't walk past them. Make a beeline for them and grab a couple stalks, and we promise it'll become one of your new favorite vegetables as well.
A Bitten Word Recipe
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 large sunchoke stalks, washed thoroughly and cut into 1/4-inch slices, about 2 cups
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
In a large pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add sunchokes to pan, along with salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to medium-low and sauté, stirring occasionaly, until sunchokes are softened and their edges are beginning to brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.
Note: If the sunchokes are getting too dry, add a little water to the pan. If they're getting crisp too early for your dinner, just turn the heat to low (or even off), and then reheat them before serving. If they're not cooking fast enough, well, turn up the heat (but be sure to stir them more frequently).