Following a chat on twitter with @LordCornelius & @WilliamShankly, I’m starting a small series on what I call the Cinderella Vegetables that crop up in the veg box every now and then. You know. The giant Swede, the alien looking Kohrabi, the nobbly Jerusalem artichokes, the gnarly Celeriac, the leafy and sometimes loathed Chard and the aniseed scented Fennel. All capable of engendering a slightly sinking feeling and the thought “What on earth do I do with THAT then?”. All is not lost. A little TLC (and occasionally the judicious application of bacon…) can rescue these Cinderellas from the compost heap and send them to dinner at the ball.
I’m starting with the Jerusalem Artichoke, mostly because I promised Bill I’d post this recipe.
Bit of history first*. First of all they’re not artichokes and they don’t come from Jerusalem. The name comes from an account written by the founder of Quebec, Samuel Champlain, who described them as “roots with the taste of artichokes”, following a French exploration of Northern America in 1605. These roots were taken to France, where they were soon grown in quantity. They were recognised as a relative of the sunflower (also introduced from the New World), as like that flower, the flowers of the Jerusalem artichoke also track the sun, with their heads twisting round. They were introduced to the English botanist John Goodyer in 1617 as “girasol” artichokes (a French word meaning gyration or turning). This became bastardised into Jerusalem artichoke, the good folk of England having no truck with fancy French words….
(*source: Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book)
Preparation. Try to pick the smoothest and least knobbly, wash well and peel. Drop straight into acidulated water (lemon or a splash of vinegar), as they discolour quickly. If you’ve ended up with a bag of total knobbles, then don’t attempt to peel – parboil for about 10 minutes in their skins until half cooked, then rinse under the cold tap and slip off the skins. (remember to slightly reduce cooking times to account for this pre-cooking).
Jerusalem artichoke and potato pie
1 pack of ready made puff pastry (all butter if poss)
bit of plain flour for rolling out pastry
350g Jersusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced into thickness of a £1 coin
250g Desiree potatoes (or King Edwards), peeled and sliced into thickness of a £1 coin
150ml double cream
1 large egg, free range, beaten
1 egg, free range, beaten for sealing pastry and glazing top.
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 dsp of finely chopped fresh thyme
salt & pepper
Butter a cake tin*, approx 25cm in circumference and about 5cm deep.
Roll out the pastry and line the cake tin, keeping back enough pastry to make a lid. Set aside to rest in a cool place.
Pre heat oven to 200C/ 400F/ GM6
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the artichokes and potatoes for 5 minutes, drain well.
In a large bowl, toss together the garlic, thyme, potatoes & artichokes until evenly distributed. Mix together the egg and cream and pour over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Toss again. Pile into pastry lined cake tin, pressing down slightly to fit all in and leave an even surface for the lid. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg, and add the pastry lid, pressing down to seal the edges. Egg wash the top of the pie, and cut two slits to let steam escape. Decorate pie with any left over pastry, don’t forget to re egg wash them.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 180C/ 350F/ GM4 and bake for another 10 minutes. (I usually check the pie after 20 minutes, if it is browning too quickly, reduce temp at that point and cook for 20 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of dish. Serve in thick wedges, with a tomato chutney and salad (works well cold too)
*(please note, if you don’t have a suitable tin, you can free style it – just cut out two pastry circles, one slightly bigger to use as the base, place the filling in the middle and pull up sides round it)