A while back I was reading a post on Honest Food about slow cooking an American wild bulb called Blue Camas that’s very high in an indigestible sugar called inulin. If you cook at a low enough temperature for long enough, you will convert most of this inulin to fructose which vastly improves the taste of plant. I figured seeing as though it’s highly unlikely I’ll be foraging for wild flower roots in the States I could try using a more easily found ingredient also high in the compound: Jerusalem artichokes.
After a little bit of research I found some information in On Food And Cooking about how to proceed: apparently it takes 12-24 hours cooking at 93°C to convert most of the inulin in Jerusalem artichokes. I decided to do some experiments by roasting in a 95°C oven for both twelve hours and twenty-four hours. I found I preferred the flavour (there was definitely a more pronounced sweetness) of the longer cooking time but the outer skin had become overly dry and chewy so I did some more tests but this time wrapped the individual roots in aluminium foil. The best result I got was from only covering the artichoke in the foil for the first twelve hours as leaving it on for the whole time gave a texture that was too mushy and somewhat slimy.
I’d love to say I chose the next ingredient, scorzonera, due some deep understanding of botanical relationships but I only bought this relative of the Jerusalem artichoke on a whim because I remembered having it in L’Enclume last year. Like its cousin, there’s even a flavour slightly reminiscent of real artichokes which is unsurprising because all three belong to the same family. And as you might expect, after peeling if they are not submerged in slightly acidic water they will turn a very unappetising brown colour.
For the sauce, I thought that instead of using wine I’d choose something Irish and there just happened to be a deal on in Lidl over Christmas featuring a gift pack of various whiskeys from Cooley (until last month, Ireland’s only independent distillery). The one I was interested in was their Connemara Peated Single Malt because I felt its smoky flavour would complement the roasted garlic and cream I also planned on using (which it did!). As with any cream reduction, the main thing to be careful of is over-reducing; make this mistake and the sauce will be far too heavy.
Finally, don’t worry too much about what type of mushroom to use, I originally wanted black trompettes but couldn’t find any (of course, didn’t I see them in Evergreen the following week?) so I bought the winter chanterelles not knowing what they were and for the very sound reason that they looked cool.
For the artichokes
2 large Jerusalem artichokes
For the roasted garlic sauce
4 cloves of garlic
125ml double cream
25ml peated whiskey
Sherry vinegar, splash
For the scorzonera puree
4 large scorzonera roots
15ml lemon juice
For the rest
1 large scorzonera root
6 hazelnuts, shelled
100g winter chanterelles
4 parsnip rounds, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if possible)
- For the artichokes, preheat the oven to 95°C.
- Coat the artichokes in butter and wrap in tin foil and place in the oven for twelve hours.
- Remove the tinfoil from the artichokes and roast for another twelve hours.
- For the roasted garlic sauce, preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Place the cloves in tinfoil, drizzle over some oil and salt and wrapped into a seal package.
- Roast the garlic for 30-40 minutes until very soft and beginning to brown.
- Add the roasted garlic and the cream to a blender and blend to a smooth puree.
- Place a small saucepan over a medium heat, add the whiskey and boil off the alcohol.
- Add the blended cream and simmer until reduced by a third.
- When reduced add the sherry vinegar and correct the seasoning if needed.
- Pass the sauce through a sieve and reserve.
- For the scorzonera puree, peel the scorzonera and chop in half so they will fit into a pan more easily.
- Place the peeled vegetables in a pan of salted, cold water and add the lemon juice.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 until soft.
- Place in a blender with the milk and puree.
- Pass through a sieve into a saucepan and if the consistency is too wet, bring to a simmer until reduced to the desired consistency.
- Stir in the butter and correct the seasoning if required.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C and place a roasting tray coated with grapeseed oil in it.
- Peel the other scorzonera root and chop in half so it will fit into a pan more easily.
- Place in a pan of salted, cold water and add some lemon juice.
- Bring to the boil and parboil for 10 minutes (you can combine this step with cooking the other scorzonera for the puree if you wish).
- Chop the two roots in half lengthways so you have four long thin pieces.
- Add the scorzonera and the hazelnuts to the roasting tray in the oven.
- After five minutes, remove the hazelnuts and roughly chop.
- Continue roasting the scorzonera until golden.
- Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter in it.
- When the foaming subsides, add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper.
- Cook for around five minutes until starting to colour. Reserve and keep warm.
- Heat a frying pan with a 2cm layer of grapeseed oil in it over a medium heat.
- When the oil is shimmering, add the thinly sliced parsnip and fry until golden.
- Remove and leave to drain on some paper towels.
- To plate, place the Jerusalem artichoke in the middle of the plate; smear a dessertspoon of reheated scorzonera puree beside the artichoke; place two of the roasted scorzonera batons next the artichokes; scatter some mushrooms on either side of the scorzonera; place two large blobs of the puree at either end of the plate and stand a parsnip chip in each one; drizzle the reheated garlic sauce over artichoke and mushrooms; scatter the hazelnuts over the plate.