Jerusalem Artichokes, otherwise and commonly known as Sunchokes, are an earthy little bulbous vegetable which is in season from December until March, but also can be available all year round and are very inexpensive. They are related to the Sunflower, producing chubby little edible tubers that can be cooked in numerous ways.
The Sunchoke is known (apparently,) to be indigenous to Northern America, all because of a French explorer name Samuel de Champlain who found these tubers at Cape Cod around 1605 and took them back to Europe. The tubers look somewhat bulbous, knobbly and you could mistake them for fresh ginger, although the Sun choke have no hairy or rough to the touch like the ginger.
They are smooth, earthy tasting and some say they taste like water chestnuts, but I disagree, because to me they taste better. When roasted with the skins on as in this recipe, they taste earthy and creamy, just like mashed potatoes. If you live alone, I wouldn't worry about the little gas pills! :) I give buying, storing and prepping tips at the end of the recipe.
1 lb. Jerusalem artichokes - Sun chokes
Sea or Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped
1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat a 400 degree F. oven.
1. If you are cooking your Sunchokes with the skin on, give them a good scrub with a clean soft scrubby and then pat them dry. Slice into 1" pieces and place them in a small bowl. Toss them with a little olive oil, sea salt (preferably), some ground black pepper and the thyme. Toss together to combine.
2. Spread the Sunchokes onto a baking sheet with a rim or in a shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the Sunchokes well with the aged balsamic vinegar (on the baking sheet). Bake for another 10 minutes or until the chokes are tender when tested with a fork.
Preparing the chokes
Sunchokes are much like apples and potatoes - when cut, they turn brown really fast. This has to do with an enzyme in the veggie or fruit which caused the browning reaction when sliced. To stop this, just place the appropriate fruit or veggie into an acidic bowl of water that has lemons/limes or the juice of these fruits.
Buying your Sun chokes
Always choose Jerusalem Artichokes that feel smooth and are pinkish and/or brown in color. Don't buy Sunchokes that have bruises or knife marks, because by the time you get to use them, they will have deteriorated in quality. They should be firm, like a potato, when you squeeze them.
Other Sunchoke preparations
Although I love to roast the Sun chokes, you can boil, saute, steam and even grate them into salads. Add any spices, sauces you like to these. If you treat them like potatoes, the world is your Choke!