Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mashed Jerusalem Artichokes (Page 544)


  • Date: Friday, January 30, 2009 -- 6pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-

I noticed Jerusalem artichokes at the grocery store the other day, and it reminded me that I still needed to make this dish! I started by peeling a whole lot of Jerusalem artichokes, which, let me tell you, was not fun at all! Jerusalem artichokes are very knotty, sort of like ginger root, but with a thicker skin that ginger. Basically they are a peeling nightmare. The Book warned me that peeling this many Jerusalem artichokes is "not fun" and they weren't kidding. Ick. After cursing, err... I mean peeling, for a long while I cut the artichokes into pieces, added some peeled potatoes, salt, whole milk, and water, and boiled until everything was tender. Then I drained the vegetables and attempted to mash them with some butter. The Book said to mash "until smooth" -- I couldn't get it smooth by hand so I gave it a few whirs in the food processor. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper and served.

If I had never in my life eaten mashed potatoes, and you fed me this, I probably would have liked it. The flavor was perfectly fine. The texture wasn't terrible. Smushed up carbohydrates is one of my favorite food genres. I am sure I would have had a reasonably positive attitude about it. But here's the thing. This dish looked like mashed potatoes. It more or less smelled like mashed potatoes. But it didn't taste nearly as good as mashed potatoes. And it was way more work! To make matters worse, mashed potatoes are one of my all-time favorite foods. So this recipe didn't bastardize just any old food -- it bastardized one of my favorites! A question I like to ask people is the following: if you were forced to eliminate all major starches from your diet except wheat and one other, which other would you keep? Now my special gentleman, and many others I have talked to, firmly believe that rice is the one to keep. Maybe they are right, but I think there is also a strong case to be made for potatoes. Part of my attachment to the potato idea is that I simply can't imagine life without mashed potatoes. I have a very strong sentimental attachment to sumshed up potatoes laden with butter and milk. So when you start adding Jerusalem artichokes to the mix, making my favorite simple dish a huge pain in the ass to make, I get unhappy. Especially because said Jerusalem artichokes affected the texture of the dish (and also the flavor, but more mildly) in a not good way.

It's a shame really. This is the only (to my knowledge) Jerusalem artichoke recipe in The Book. I would like to see what these vegetables can do when they aren't pretending to be potatoes. Surely there are better uses for them. But as mock potatoes, actually pain-in-the-ass mock potatoes, I was not impressed.

Here is the recipe.


n.o.e said...

I'm with you: potatoes and bread would pretty much keep me happy.

Teena said...

I'm glad someone agrees with me! Potatoes are so fantastic!