Starting a new job is an exciting and nerve wracking time, but this week I was greeted with bags of enthusiasm, interesting projects, and Jerusalem artichokes.
No, not to work on (how to advertise the curious, knobbly tuber would be an interesting brief alright), these were given to me by our new business director, Jim. A chap who has what sounds like a big enough small holding to allow him to give some produce away, and an obsession with good food and eating it that's akin to my own.
I arrived back at my desk after a meeting and found a pile of the vegetable in front of my laptop, I squirreled them away inside my handbag and it was then the recipe cogs began to whir. Their taste is mild but distinctive - I could see them working very well blended in a soup, made into a gratin, or for something a little different - a remoulade, using them instead of celeriac.
If you've not tried them before they've a very interesting texture - the centre of them when cooked is soft and yielding like a boiled potato (they're part of the same family) but the outer is slightly tougher and more fiberous.
But what to make with them on this occasion? After a fun and boozy weekend I wanted to do something with very little involvement. Something that I could throw into a pot and leave in the oven whilst I took a walk to appreciate the sun shining in Didsbury (and a wander around the clothing and jewelry boutiques, you might be sure).
This dish does just that, and it greeted me with a scent so tantilising when I got home that I struggled to concentrate until it was ready. The combination of flavours marry beautifully, creating an intensly flavoured and exsquisitely coloured liquor, given an extra poke and edge through the Bloody Mary ingredients and wine - the Jerusalem artichokes really suit a boozy sauce.
I used cooking chorizo from Morrisons deli counter and have found it to be incredibly good - decent fat content and heavy on the paprika, it lends a lovely, light smokiness to the dish overall and is worth making a trip to Morrisons to buy if you don't usually shop there.
200-300 grams Jerusalem artichokes, peeled (bit of a pain but worth doing) and rinsed
6 chicken thighs, bone in or out (I used bone out) and skinless, trimmed of excess fat
3 carrots, grated on a fine setting
2 chorizo sausages (I used ones that were around 3" each in length) peeled and cut into rounds
1 red onion, diced
2-3 large ladles of chicken stock (I used homemade but a cube will be fine too)
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 large glass of white wine
250mls pasatta or tomato juice
A teaspoon of Tabasco
A large shot of vodka
A generous scrunch of black pepper
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, snipped into little pieces
Around 10 cherry tomatoes, left whole
Olive oil for frying
A few pinches of flat leaf parsley, cut up
Bread to serve
- Preheat your oven to 175 degrees- Place a casserole pot (one that has a lid) onto a medium-highish heat and add your bacon, a slug of olive oil, celery, onion and chorizo, fry until they're colouring nicely, then add the carrot and tomatoes and continue cooking for around five minutes
- Now add to the pan the wine, pasatta and vodka, along with lots of black pepper. Place the lid on the pan and pop it into the oven for 1 hour
- After an hour remove the pot and add the Jerusalem artichokes, cover again and put the pot back into the oven for 20-30 minutes until the artichokes are soft (use a knife to see). Add the parsley to the pot and serve at the table, using some nice baguette to mop up the juices. Best eaten with some vino on the go