Jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms
What starts as a dry root turns into a delicious meal.
There were Jerusalem artichokes in the market this week, looking so pretty in their light pink and brown jackets that I had to cram a few into my overloaded shopping bag.
Then I wandered over to the big herb stand, the one that has the biggest, most varied mushroom display, and bought a little basket of button mushrooms. Once home, it seemed natural to cook the chokes and mushrooms together. I’m glad I did. The earthy mushrooms complemented the choke’s slight sweetness, and all was made piquant with onions and spices. It was really tasty, and a hit with my vegetarian friend who was lunching with me that day. I’ll do it again.
Something about these knobbly roots reminds me of dragons, or prehistoric lizards. Doesn’t the one in this photo remind you of a crouching dragon patiently waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting knight?
The first thing to do with these chokes is peel them. The trick is to slice off the protruding knobs first, peeling them separately later. It makes peeling the body of the choke much easier. Then, gentle reader, follow the recipe:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Jerusalem artichoke tubers, each about 4" (10 cm) long
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1-1/2 cup halved button mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage, or 1 small dried leaf, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 3 scallions, sliced
Peel the chokes and chop into slices 1/2″ (1 cm.) thick.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Sauté the onions in the oil until translucent. Add the choke slices. Spread them out so that most of them are in contact with the hot oil. Cook over medium heat, allowing one side of the chokes to brown. This should take about 5 minutes.
Turn the slices over and brown the top sides. Now cover with a pot lid, lower the heat, and let the chokes steam in their own slight juices – about 10 minutes. Stir to prevent scorching if needed.
Add the mushrooms, spreading them out over the chokes but not mixing them in. Raise the heat to medium. Salt lightly and cover again. The mushrooms will release juice and help cook the chokes. Cook like this for 5 minutes.
Continue cooking over medium heat, covered. Keep an eye on it and stir a few times to prevent scorching. The choke slices should be cooked through and tender, but not mushy, when you go on to the next step – about another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the sage, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook, covered, a few minutes or until you’re satisfied that the seasonings have penetrated throughout the dish.
Scatter finely chopped scallions over all and serve.