Monday, 16 November 2009

Jerusalem (artichokes), the golden

Last autumn I went to a local boot fair and bought a bag of Jerusalem artichokes off a man who had grown them in his own garden and was selling them for 20p a bag. I peeled a few of them and used them in a pasta sauce, which I found very much to my liking. The rest I stored in our shed over winter, and in February of this year I planted them in the small raised bed in our back garden. Nothing happened for ages and I forgot about them, until finally they sprouted and grew up into these tall, sunflower-like plants. (Apparently Jerusalem artichoke is a member of the sunflower family, so that's not entirely surprising.) Today I dug up the first of the plants. My OH blanched the artichokes and roasted them in goose fat, and they were gorgeous. Tomorrow I will be taking over the reins in the kitchen - I plan to make a Greek dish, pasticchio, with a little extra something... a layer of Jerusalem artichoke slices.

Update: I made the pasticchio, complete with slices of blanched Jerusalem artichoke. It was gorgeous - the artichoke added a subtle extra something, without being overpowering or out of place. In case you didn't know, pasticchio is a pasta bake flavoured with a pinch of cinnamon. You cook some pasta quills, you make a cheese sauce using a roux, and you make a bolognaise sauce (minus bacon but with that pinch of cinnamon). Then you mix the pasta quills and bolognaise-type sauce, add a layer of blanched Jerusalem artichoke slices, and finally a layer of cheese sauce, plus grated cheese on the top. Bake in the oven at about gas mark 6/200 deg.C for half an hour. As I said, gorgeous.

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