Friday, 9 January 2015

Creamy Jerusalem Artichoke Bake

Jerusalem Artichokes are a bit of a tradition around this time of year in my family. We always have a bowl of them cooked in a creamy white sauce on Christmas day to go with our turkey and I can always remember Dad going out into the veg patch to dig some up on Christmas Eve and then taking hours to clean and peel the knobbly tubers ready for the next day's celebrations.

Jerusalem Artichokes are nothing like globe artichokes so don't get them confused - they are related to the Sunflower family and the plants look just like a tall sunflower. If you leave them long enough I think they will flower - but I've never seen them.

Here's a picture of them growing at the back of Mum & Dads veg garden last summer.......

I have seen the tubers in some vegetable shops but not often in supermarkets so if you want to have a go at cooking them you may need to speak to your local green grocer if he doesn't stock them - or have a go at growing them yourself - there really easy you just plant them and off they go - no real care required - although I have managed to kill off a few plants over the years!!

This year I have had a go at updating the traditional dish served by my family at Christmas and personally I preferred it....... (sorry Mum!)

This dish was still really creamy but also had a gooey nutty crunch which was really yummy and the lemon and thyme cut through the richness....

Serves 2-4 ( depends on your portion size!!)

1lb jerusalem artichokes (unpeeled weight)
half pint thick double cream
zest and juice of a lemon
4 handfuls white breadcrumbs ( I always breadcrumb a whole large white loaf at christmas for stuffing, bread sauce etc so I nicked a bit of that - didn't weigh it)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Pre heat oven 180C/ Gas 5

So, as usual Dad came up trumps and sent a large box of beautiful artichokes for me.....all clean and plump....

Peel and cut the tubers in half and pop into a saucepan, with enough cold water to cover, and the juice of the lemon - this stops the flesh from colouring....

Bring them to the boil and cook till al dente - this will happen quickly so keep an eye on them or they will turn to mush!

Remove from the pan and quickly run under cold water to stop them steaming and cooking further - set aside....

now mix together the cream, coriander seeds, half the lemon zest, salt and pepper......

Mix in the artichokes and set to one side....

Mix together your breadcrumbs with the rest of the lemon zest, the thyme leaves, half the parmesan and a little more salt & pepper.

Pop your creamy artichoke mix into an oven proof dish and sprinkle on your breadcrumb topping - don't go right to the edge keep it in the middle so the creamy sauce can bubble up and make a nice gooey edge to the dish. Top off with the remaining parmesan and then pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes until it has browned off and gone sticky around the edges.....

This really is a lovely dish - subtle taste and perfect with Roast poultry this time of the year....

 Artichoke bake

Hope you all have a peaceful weekend