Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just Call Me Sunny: Sunchokes


The Jerusalem artichoke is a vegetable with an identity crisis. Neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem, it is instead a native American member of the sunflower family that acquired its name when the French who discovered it in the 1600’s thought that it tasted like an artichoke. The modifier Jerusalem is a corruption of the Italian word for sunflower “Girasole.” Around the middle of the last century, retailers of the tuber, resolved the confusion by renaming it the Sunchoke. Sunchokes are generally light brown and knobby, looking like a cross between a piece of ginger and a Yukon gold potato. Some, like the ones pictured, have a reddish tinge. Taste-wise, they have mild, nutty flavor. Sunchokes are good mashed, steamed, deep fried and even raw in salads.


Sunchoke Chips
Serves 2
2 large sunchokes or 3 smaller ones
4 cups vegetable oil
Coarse sea salt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan to 325° F. While waiting for the oil to come to temperature, thinly slice the sunchokes on a adjustable slicer between 1/8 and 1/16-inch thick. Essentially, slice it as thinly as possible while remaining in one piece. Drop the slices into the hot oil and cook until light brown approximately 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on crumbled paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.

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