NZ Lifestyle Block

Good From Scratch

Tart up winter with Michael Van de Elzen

- Words Michael Van de Elzen

It's getting chillier, but our gardens are still overflowin­g with produce. This month, we're harvesting our Jerusalem artichokes. Despite their name, they're not from Jerusalem, nor are they a type of artichoke. They were first cultivated in America, then taken to France by Samuel de Champlain where it was discovered the plant loved temperate European climates.

Apparently, ‘Jerusalem' may be a mispronunc­iation of the Italian word for sunflower; they're members of the same family, standing up to 2m tall, and have golden flowers in summer.

Samuel is thought to be responsibl­e for ‘artichoke' because he described them as tasting similar to globe artichokes (sweet, earthy mushroom-garlicky).

We planted our first ones in the school gardens about a year ago. They're known for spreading quickly and taking over, so we opted to plant them in a large concrete pipe. It was a good decision, and I'd urge you to do something similar unless you really, really like Jerusalem artichokes.

The tarte tatin recipe on page 40 (and pictured at right) tastes divine, but there are simple ways to cook them too.

I use them to make a soup:

sauté white onions;

add garlic and peeled artichokes, a touch of white wine, and stock;

cook until tender;

blitz in a blender, and add a couple of cubes of butter and a dash of cream.

If you want to make it fancy, a touch of truffle oil works a treat.

Another option is to simply roast them. Wash, then cut them in half. Rub with a little oil and season, then place on an oven tray. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan (use a good aged one if you can), and bake at 180°C until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with roast chicken and a fresh rocket salad. Yumbo!

Convenient­ly, this month I'm also sharing the best-ever roast chicken recipe.

Brining chicken is one of the best ways to bring out maximum flavour and maintain the moisture of the meat.

When you cook chicken, it loses about 30% of its natural moisture content. But submerge it in a brine, and the salty water penetrates the flesh, creating little pockets of moisture. The salt also begins to dissolve proteins, which makes the meat more tender.

The result is moist, succulent, tender chicken, seasoned right through.

Internatio­nally renowned chef and TV host Michael Van de Elzen runs the Good from Scratch Cooking School with wife Belinda. @Mikevandee­lzen

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