While the nights are still cold and the days chilly, there is only a certain amount of winter produce around, look a little harder and you may just find something a little different. This vegetable was once preferred over the potato and for a root vegetable that is not from Jerusalem or a member of the artichoke family the sun root, sun choke or more commonly what is known as the Jerusalem Artichoke, has had a lively and interesting past dating back to the 1500’s and beyond.
Being associated with leporcy has not helped this vegetable grow in popularity, this was attributed to the irregular shape and brown mottled skin that resembled the deformed finger of those unfortunate to have this disease. The sun choke is actually a tuber, or underground stem, that resembles a small knobby potato or a piece of gingerroot. It has a sweet, almost nutty taste and a crisp texture that is quite distinctive – once tried, always remembered
Thought there was only one type of Artichoke, think again !
The Jerusalem Artichoke (sun flower family and only available in winter) should not get confused with the Globe Artichoke (thistle family, available in spring), Chinese Artichoke or Crosnes (mint family, available late summer) but it will get the blame for causing flatulence with some people !. It can be found in the gardens of many home growers as it is a vegetable that does not sit well on supermarket shelf’s and can be frustrating for people to peel. The solution is to scrub well, breaking into serving size pieces and then roast/blanch with the skin on in the oven until just soft. The taste and texture will provide much discussion at the dinner table and if that does not then the side affects certainly will!
Roasted artichokes with Wild Bacon and Cabbage
50 g Butter
3 cloves Garlic
1 t Caraway Seeds, toasted
200 g Wild Bacon
1 cup Chicken Stock
300 g Artichokes, washed
½ t Salt
¼ t freshly ground Black Pepper
Sweat Onion and Garlic in Butter until soft, add cabbage and stock and turn to the lowest heat seating for 10-15 minutes stirring often. Add toasted Caraway seeds and wild Bacon and season to taste. On a baking tray add sliced Artichokes and 2 T olive oil and bake 180 degrees until golden brown. Serve Cabbage and Artichokes along side roasted lamb or beef