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Choice ingredient: Hayden Groves on jerusalem artichokes

Categories: Expert guidance

In this regular series, cooks with a connection to Borough Market explore the seasonal ingredients that give them most pleasure. This month, Hayden Groves—Borough Market demonstration chef and winner of the Foodservice Cateys Chef of the Year 2015—talks about his favourite November ingredient: jerusalem artichokes

My choice ingredient is the jerusalem artichoke. They are absolutely fantastic and bang in season this month. They are not actually an artichoke per se, like the globe artichoke with its rounded shape and thick leaves; jerusalem artichokes grow underground like tubers. I always tell people to think of the potato.

As a chef, flavour is everything and I absolutely love their flavour. They have this lovely earthy, nutty taste, which is perfect for this time of year. Not many people use jerusalem artichokes at home which is a shame because it is a fantastic vegetable that’s versatile as well as flavoursome. You can make a soup, a puree or even use it as the main vegetable in a dish.

When you peel a jerusalem artichoke it is a creamy white colour underneath but it will begin to oxidise and discolour if left out so before you start peeling, make sure you have a bowl of milk or acidulated water—which is simply water with something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar added—to hand and put the artichokes straight in once they are peeled.

A white puree
Because they come from the ground they have muddy brown skin, so I wash or peel them if I want to make a white puree, which I use to get that lovely flavour into a white-based soup, or when I’m making some form of risotto where artichokes will be added diced or sliced.

Lately I have been roasting artichokes, which was part of my menu when I won the National Chef of the Year 2013. Like a lot of vegetables, there is loads of flavour under the skin and roasting is a way of preserving that. Wash them really well with a vegetable brush and scrub them within an inch of their life. Either slice or dice, depending on the final use, then roast them in the oven in foaming butter until they are tender and a beautiful golden-brown colour.

Another way to use jerusalem artichokes is to scrub them really well then bake them on sea salt. When tender, scoop out some (not all) of the middle and let them dry out before deep frying in fresh oil at 170C, until they are a nice golden brown. Season with salt and away you go. You can serve these as a garnish or as a dish in itself along with a dip like a Greek yoghurt flavoured with some herbs. It’s nice when you want something that's a bit different, rather than potatoes.

Amazing crisps
They also make amazing crisps—just scrub them, then finely slice with a mandolin straight into some hot oil at about 160C. Once you've tried this it will make you wonder why people only eat potato crisps.

Adding vegetable stock to roasted artichokes is another way of making a wonderful nutty flavoured puree which you can use in many different ways—I like it with meat or meaty fish like halibut or roast cod. As it’s game season, I would suggest picking some up the next time you buy a game bird such as partridge or pheasant.

In terms of vegetables, they go really well with celeriac or mushrooms—especially wild mushrooms, with their deep earthy flavours. There’s an old chef’s saying: things that grow together, go together. Artichokes, being right in season, go well with brassicas which are also bang in season at the moment. Take this as a guide. Some of the best flavours and flavour combinations are not the most obvious. I have seen artichokes paired with chocolate, even!