Ever come across ‘experts’ gesticulating over their food to the degree that you want them just to enjoy eating it rather than go through what sometimes can be seen as some elaborate mating ritual…mmm, yes, I can detect a mmm, subtle hint of toasted melon with a mmm, yes underlying palate of macerated yak droppings, nicely finished with a yes…mmm, let me cogitate further…mmm, yes a definite nuance of tea-smoked elderflower. Not bad for a piece of toast, hey?
I have, in the past, often struggled to take seriously those that described their food as ‘earthy’. I mean who did their research? Some poor student chef gulping down handfuls of sodden earth under the careful direction of their mentor,
Does it remind you of anything?
The student is thinking ‘yes, death’ but says
yes chef, truffle, mushroom, carrots…so earthy.
In essence I jest. I now, in my infinite wisdom (ahem), completely understand that food is very subjective and in particular in how we try to describe taste, flavour, texture and smell. So, for example, I can now really detect the similarities between the ‘smell’ of the earth and the term ‘earthy’ that describes the ‘flavour’ of many root vegetables, tubers and fungi that originate from within the earth; or very close to it.
Jerusalem artichokes exude that ‘earthiness’ and when looking at food pairing you cannot go wrong with looking at similar ‘earthy’ food types. I have recently discovered the complete and utter affinity that the ‘earthiness’ of truffle (in this case as truffle oil) has with Jerusalem artichoke.
The recipe below is for a Jerusalem artichoke purée which is a wonderfully creamy and citrusy concoction. On its own it can complement many meat dishes, and although the truffle oil is optional, if you have any then please indulge as it takes the purée to another level. If you are very well positioned in life then shavings of black truffle would be Utopian.
For a great insight in to the origins and characteristics of the humble Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke) then check out the post ‘Jerusalem Artichoke aka Sunchokes’ on Duck and Roses.
Serves: A few plus some for freezing | Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking: 45-60 minutes
1.5kg Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) | Unpeeled. Ensure they have been scrubbed clean in cold water if you have just picked them.
300ml Grapeseed oil | You can use groundnut oil or any oil that has a neutral flavour.
50g Butter | I use Lescure French butter, but any good butter is great.
From 5 medium lemons Lemon juice | Squeezed and pip-free.
To season Sea salt | According to taste – You can always adjust at the end.
500ml Water |
40ml Single cream | Milk fat content of about 35%.
10ml White or black truffle oil |
Ensure that your artichokes are completely dirt free as we are cooking these with their skins on. Cut the artichokes into small pieces and boil in hot water for 1 minute and then drain (just to remove any lingering dirt).
Put the oil in a heavy based pan and warm on a low heat. Add the artichokes, butter, lemon juice, salt, and water, and stir. Cover the pan with a lid and gently cook the artichokes for about 45 minutes to an hour, until very soft. Once soft, stir in the cream. Process the artichoke mix in a food processor until very smooth. Now push the purée through a fine sieve – this will separate out all of the skin, and result in a silky smooth purée. Now add the truffle oil (optional) and stir until mixed in.
The purée can be chilled and then gently warmed up before serving. It also keeps well if frozen – if you do freeze it ensure that you defrost it slowly in the fridge and then warm very gently before serving.
- Great served with red meat dishes, such as lamb shanks, or smothered on vegetables. As an example I steamed some cauliflower until al dente and then baked it in a medium hot oven covered in the artichoke purée.
- Celeriac is another great ‘earthy’ root that can be used instead of Jerusalem artichoke. Sometimes when I’m feeling fruity I combine the two.