Fricasseed Chicken with Garlic, Capers, White Wine, and Jerusalem Artichokes

Pollo in Tegame con i Topinambur

It has always puzzled me to find that so few people use that superb tuber produced by certain sunflowers, the Jerusalem artichoke, also known as sunchoke. And among most of those who do buy it, its application has suffered the same fate as that of finocchio, relegated to the minor role of adding an agreeable, raw crunch to salads.

Outside of the Lombardy and Piedmont regions, the notable virtues of topinambur, as the tuber is called in Italy, are unfamiliar to most Italians as well. Those who do cook with it, however, are justifiably enamored of its creamy, delicately nutty flesh when it is baked, gratinéed, or sautéed, or, as in the following recipe, when it is part of a chicken fricassee. You will find that Jerusalem artichokes’ silky texture and exquisite almond-like flavor, here played off against the tart accent of capers, add unusual finesse to the taste of chicken.

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Ingredients

  • A 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Method

  1. Wash the chicken in cold water then pat thoroughly dry with kitchen towels.
  2. Pare away the Jerusalem artichokes’ tough skin using a small paring knife or a swiveling-blade peeler. Slice the peeled chokes into very thin disks.
  3. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and turn on the heat to medium high. As soon as the oil is hot—if you hold your hand palm downward just above the pan, the air rising from the pan should feel quite hot—slip in all the chicken pieces. Brown them well on one side, turn them to do the other side, then use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer them to a deep dish or bowl.
  4. Put the garlic in the pan and cook it just until it becomes colored a very pale gold, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the parsley and capers, stir quickly once or twice, then return the chicken pieces to the pan together with any juices they may have shed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn all ingredients over two or three times to coat them well.
  6. Add the wine and let it simmer for about 1 minute, then put in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes. Turn over the contents of the pan once or twice, put a lid on, and turn the heat down to low. Cook, turning over the chicken pieces and the Jerusalem artichokes from time to time, for about 45 minutes, until the chicken thigh feels very tender when prodded with a fork. Empty the full contents of the pan into a warm platter and serve at once.

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