This tuber is finally returning home to North America. Long overshadowed by the potato, it’s a joy to rediscover. The Jerusalem artichoke (a.k.a. sunchoke, sunroot and topinambur) resembles ginger root, with a similar colour, smooth skin and irregular shape. But that’s as far as the likeness goes. The flesh of a Jerusalem artichoke is white, crisp, delicate, sweet and reminiscent of artichokes, hence the name. (However, it is not an artichoke and has nothing to do with Jerusalem; rather, the name is a corruption of girasole, Italian for sunflower, to which it’s related.)
This delicate vegetable needs to be handled with care, as it oxidizes and blackens quickly. Immediately after peeling, place in water acidified with lemon juice. Since the thin skins are edible, you have the option of rinsing the tubers in cold water, slicing them and making the recipe; it will be just as delicious, albeit not as pretty.
Jerusalem artichokes are becoming easier to find in supermarkets and greengrocers. Store them unwashed in the crisper, in a plastic bag with air holes.
You can eat them raw or cooked, in gratins or mashed like potatoes. Try them in soups and stews. They make a fine accompaniment for chicken and leeks.