As we edge closer into spring, the season for Jerusalem artichokes (remember, also known as sunchokes) is drawing to a close. I really adore these knobbly little tubers. I love their texture, but mostly I love their artichoke-like flavour.
When cooking them, I like to leave their skin on (just scrub it a lot). They tend to fall apart if you don't.
Oh, and please keep in mind my earlier warning about gas. I don't want to turn you off these tasty babies, but they're definitely not for a romantic evening for two.
Jerusalem Artichoke and Sausage Simmer with Lemons and Fennel
(adapted from Nigel Slater - it's his week this week)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 good quality, herbal pork sausages
1 onion, peeled and cut into eighths (you want nice big hunks)
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ lemon, cut lengthwise into 6-8 pieces
6-10 button mushrooms, halved
2/3 lb Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and cut in half
2 cups chicken stock or water (approx)
½ tsp (heaping) fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Brown sausages on all sides, then remove from pan and reduce heat. Add in onion and get colour gently for 15-20 minutes until onion is soft enough to crush.
It's all about building flavour levels here.
2. Add in garlic, mushrooms, lemon and Jerusalem artichoke halves. Let brown slightly, then return sausages and any accumulated juices to pan. Throw in fennel seeds and a decent grinding of black pepper.
3. Add enough stock to cover artichoke mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until artichokes are tender (they'll still be a bit toothsome, don't expect them to go the consistency of potatoes). Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve over a bed of steamed greens.
Nigel calls this a recipe for deepest, darkest winter, but I think the fennel and lemon brighten the whole thing up so nicely that it's a great recipe for the transition in Canada that some call Spring, but I like to call The Melting Season.