Jerusalem artichokes have an interesting history. There is no connection between this tuber and the city that bears the same name; they were originally cultivated by Native Americans. The most common theory behind their current name stems from the fact that Italian immigrants named them girasole, which later became “girasole artichoke”, which then eventually developed into “Jerusalem artichoke”. Its other name, sunchoke, is a relatively new name for the tuber that stems from the fact that its flowers look a lot like sunflowers.
While only distantly related to artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes still carry a distinct (okey dokey) artichokey flavor when cooked. They have a similar texture to potatoes. They’re one of my favorite starches because of their versatility; they can be eaten raw or cooked, they don’t need to be peeled, and they taste good both gently cooked and fully roasted.
Oven Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)
2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp cooking fat (lard, duck fat, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Wash and pat dry the artichokes, then thinly slice with a knife or use a mandolin on its thickest setting. You want the slices to be a little thicker than thick-cut potato chips, about 1/4″ thick. There is no need to remove the edible peel from the artichokes – trying to do so is an exercise in frustration.
2. Loosely arrange the sliced artichokes on a baking sheet. It doesn’t need to be perfect, and it’s okay if they don’t all fit on one layer. Jerusalem artichokes are extremely forgiving, and are delicious both crispy and not so crispy. Personally, I like to arrange them haphazardly since the dual textures of crispy and not crispy are a delicious combination. And it’s so much easier and fun to eat different textures at once. Season with the salt, pepper, and thyme, then drizzle with your preferred cooking fat.
3. Place the artichokes on your lowest oven rack, bake for 20 minutes, then shake and toss the artichokes with a spatula. Rotate your pan and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the artichokes are golden but before they’re a deep brown color. Cool for 5 minutes then enjoy.
If you arrange the artichokes so that they’re all flush against the pan, they’ll cook more evenly; personally, I like the haphazard arrangement you see above.