Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If you haven't tried sunchokes, do it!

OK, seriously, who out there has ever eaten sunchokes? I'd barely even heard of them when they arrived on my doorstep from Full Circle Farm this week, but I was excited to give them a try. The description that comes with each box explained that they're also called Jerusalum artichokes, and as far as I'm concerned, you just can't go wrong with anything that has the word artichoke in it.

But since I had no idea how to prepare these sunchokes, I simply followed the recipe the farm also had sent. (Here's the PDF; it's the recipe on the top left.) I double-checked the instructions to simply scrub them, since they look kind of like a cross between ginger and yams, both of which I normally peel. But yes, the skin stays on, at least for this recipe.

Apparently, you can also mash sunchokes and use them in soups, but I will definitely be making this recipe again. Potato Au Gratin is always a winner in our house, and this one has the added benefit of tasting like it has cheesy artichoke dip mixed in. You gotta try it!

Here's how I made it:

Sunchoke and Potato Au Gratin
1 T. butter
3/4 lb. sunchokes, scrubbed and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1-1/2 lb. potatoes, sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. olive oil, divided
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
1 shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 T. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 T. dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a casserole dish with the butter.
Toss the sunchokes and potatoes with 2 T. olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne. Place half of the mixture in the dish, layering evenly. Mix the shallots and garlic in a small bowl, then sprinkle half the mixture over the sunchokes/potatoes and top it with half of the cheddar cheese. Top with remaining sunchoke/potato mixture, then the shallots and garlic, and sprinkle the flour on top. Add remaining cheddar cheese, then pour the milk over the casserole.
In a bowl, mix the panko with remaining 2 T. olive oil, parsley and Parmesan cheese, then spread evenly over the casserole. Bake for 1 hour, or until fork tender.

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