I’m posting later than normal today. NOT because I was up at 2 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding (though I did turn on CNN this morning for the debrief to find Anderson Cooper a bit too obsessively comparing the two royal kisses on split screen) but because I’ve fled the manic thermal gyrations of my Rocky Mountain spring weather for the predictable heat of the high Sonoran desert, beginning the day in the civilized mid 70’s. I’m sharing my morning coffee with palm trees dancing in the breeze aside my balcony, bathed in the golden light that promises a heated day. All this while wearing my PJ’s, a certain non-starter were I to be back in Boulder.
Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes (with no seeming roots back to Jerusalem from my research), are the tuber of a variety of sunflower plant which is native to eastern North American and Canada. They are known by many other names such as earth-apple and girasola, from Italian, meaning ‘turning to the sun’ as many sunflowers do as they grow. Fun sunchoke fact: the sunchoke was cultivated 400-500 years ago in North American and the Lewis and Clark expedition members ate them during their journey across the U.S. when provided by Native Americans (love that)*.
At first blush, these primitive beasts look like the outcome of a foraging dig in some deep woods somewhere. After tasting them cooked, I should be so lucky to find something like this in the wild. Looking visually like a kissing cousin to a ginger root but bearing the consistency of a potato-water chestnut cross, I was completely intrigued. When researching recipes I found an abundance of soup recipes but wanted something less common.
I finally stumbled upon what I now believe is the Golden Ticket; a delicious bake using ginger and garlic that is out-of-this-world flavorful and delicious, with a beautiful consistency of creamy sauce and potato-like bite (still with a bit of a crunch) bearing very subtle flavor tones of actual artichoke. This was one of those ‘hit the jackpot’ recipe attempts that will remain in my top selections whenever I see sunchokes now.
Creamy Scalloped Ginger Sunchokes
Gingery sunchokes with a crunchy top are satisfying and delicious.
- 2 cups Sunchokes , peeled and sliced (approximately 8-10)
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Ginger
- 2 large Garlic Cloves , minced
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoon Cornstarch
- ¾ cup dried Bread Crumbs*
- ¼ cup diced Pecans
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 1 quart casserole or gratin dish.
- In a saucepan combine sunchokes, ¾ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons of the cream, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Let cook 5 minutes once hot to combine all flavors and soften the sunchokes.
- Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream with cornstarch; stir to fully combine. Add to sunchoke mixture in saucepan and continue to cook 5-10 minutes longer until the mixture begins to thicken.
- In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and pecans and stir to fully mix together.
- Spoon the sunchoke mixture into the prepared baking pan. Cover the top evenly with bread/pecan mixture.
- Place the baking dish of sunchokes in a larger roasting pan. Fill with hot water to reach halfway up the side of the baking dish to create a water bath.
- Bake until done when top becomes golden brown;about 25-30 minutes.
*To make homemade bread crumbs: Toast bread and process into crumbs in a food processer or mini chopper. Extra bread crumbs may be sealed and frozen for future use.
Recipe adatped from About.com