Monday, December 19, 2011

OVER THE RIVER & THRU THE WOODS... Pan-roasted Sunchokes

Pan-roasted Sunchokes

“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go…”

Well, actually we go over the Grapevine and up the I-5 to cousin’s house, but you get the picture.

As some of you may remember, Richard and I travel north to colder California climes and foliage for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We first hit brother Bob and wife Nguyen’s house for a yummy “pre-turkey day” rib roast dinner and sleepover, then traveled west to the lovely East Bay area outside of San Francisco for a few days of cousins, golf and great food.

Last year I posted about some of the goodies we had on Thanksgiving (a few replicated again this year), but this Thanksgiving dinner introduced me to a food I’d never heard of, never mind eaten: the sunchoke.

I’m still not sure what a sunchoke is other than it’s not a meat and may be related to the artichoke.  They’re both “chokes,” after all.  Perhaps, they’re half-siblings w/ the same mother or father… or perhaps, like Michele who made this dish and is my cousin (actually second cousin, but think of as a niece), the two chokes are cousins, but I digress…

When I queried her (yeh, “queried” – I like the word) about the dish, she told me it was an “acquired taste.”  So, ever the food taster adventurer (unless snake or eel are involved), I was looking forward to tasting it and to see if it was something I’d want to “acquire.”

It was.  And, if you’re looking for something new and different to serve at your Christmas/Holiday dinner, I definitely recommend this dish (though, as you’ll see from Michele’s note at the end, in moderation).

Below is the recipe she “borrowed” from the Feb./Mar. 2010 Fine Cooking magazine. They called it pan-roasted sunchokes and artichoke hearts with lemon herb butter.  It serves 4-6, but she embellished a lot and made enough for our large crew.

Below are the recipe and her comments:



2 T of extra virgin olive oil... or more
1 lb sunchokes scrubbed and cut into 1/4 inch wedges.. “I ignored this and sliced thinly.”  Keep the skins on.  (“They cook much more quickly the thinner they are, and you do not want to overcook.”)
8 oz frozen quartered artichoke hearts, thawed
2 T finely chopped shallot...”I used regular yellow onion and about 1/2 cup or more”
3 T dry vermouth or dry white wine.  “I had neither so used beer =)”
1 T fresh lemon juice....”I just squirted a bunch from the "bottled" stuff”
2 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 T fresh parsley, chopped...
2 t fresh tarragon, chopped...
pepper and salt
”and I used fresh sage from my garden also”


”I used a Dutch oven (or you can use an ovenproof skillet) to heat oil and brown the sunchokes with 1/4 t salt until browned on both sides...don't over cook. 2-3 minutes.” 

Add the artichoke hearts and more salt.  cook till browned. 

Move the mixture to the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. Sunchokes should be tender.

Transfer the veggies to bowl to keep warm. 

Set the skillet (or dutch oven) over med heat, add shallot and cook stirring with wooden spoon till soft and lightly browned.  Add the vermouth and cook stirring and scraping to loosen any brown bits.  Reduce heat to low, add lemon and butter, one piece at a time, swirling pan to melt.  Stir in herbs, return veggies to pan and toss to reheat and coat with butter.

Salt and pepper to taste.

”Just a note...some blogs warn that sunchokes can cause gastrointestinal distress!  They contain inulin that gets things moving.  I ate the leftovers day after Thanksgiving and had more than I should have, and yes. What they blogged is true.  So, just keep in mind to enjoy in moderation!  Like our w

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