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.
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.