Easily overlooked in the greengrocer’s, these knobbly little roots are as useful as your bag of potatoes. If you think about them in similar terms, a whole world of dishes opens up. Roasted, fried, mashed, blended into a soup; there is little that the jerusalem artichoke can’t do.
While they often feature on restaurant menus as purées and mousses, they are just as quietly brilliant tossed with butter and herbs and left to roast happily in a hot oven. I find their sweet, nutty flavour deeply comforting in winter, with earthy undertones that chime well with these wet, dark days. So think about cooking them with fresh herbs like sage, thyme or rosemary, and wintry spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Both game and red meats work well with jerusalem artichokes, and accompanied by some white fish like sea bass or brill, they become a lighter option.
This recipe acts as a good mid-week meal you can cook up quickly, but one that will hold your interest and hopefully encourage you to use jerusalem artichokes again. The nuts and breadcrumbs create an essential crunch to counter the buttery mash, while the green of the broccoli is a good refreshment against the rich browns found in this dish, both visually and in terms of taste. A sprinkling of parmesan is a nice touch if you some sitting in the fridge, and if you have fresh herbs to hand, add these to the boiling water to gently infuse the artichokes.
Jerusalem Artichoke Mash with Chargrilled Broccoli, Hazelnuts & Crispy Garlic Breadcrumbs
800g jerusalem artichokes
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
400g tender stem broccoli
Leftover sourdough bread, blitzed into chunky crumbs
Handful of hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper
Peel the artichokes, chopping them into chunks and put in a saucepan of cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt. Bring this to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or so, until they are easily pierced with a knife.
Bring a second pan of water to the boil. Trim the leaves and stems of the broccoli blanch for three minutes in salted water. Then refresh it in very cold water, drain and leave to dry.
Meanwhile, make the crispy garlic. Melt a large chunk of the butter in a frying pan, and once it foams toss in the sliced garlic. You will need to keep a close eye on it to prevent it burning. You want to reach a caramel brown colour; any darker and the burnt notes will overpower the taste.
Once the colour starts to darken take the pan off the heat and continue to move the garlic around until it is an even colour. Then, remove it from the pan and leave to drain on some kitchen roll.
Without washing the pan (the garlic will have transferred some of its flavour to the foaming butter), add some olive oil and bring back to a high heat. Add the broccoli, and let it char for a minute or two before turning to cook the other side. If you have a lot you may need to do this in batches. Remove from the pan, give a quick spritz of lemon juice and keep warm.
Toss your breadcrumbs in the pan and sauté for a few minutes until they have absorbed the leftover oil and are nice and golden. By now the artichokes should be nicely softened. Drain them well, and return to the pan. Mash them with a potato masher or a stick blender, adding the butter and any seasoning.
Divide up the mash, pile the broccoli on top, and finish with a sprinkling of the chopped hazelnuts, crispy garlic slices and the breadcrumbs.