Here at Le Cordon Bleu London, our Master Chefs understand the importance of cooking with seasonal produce, having adopted it as a way of life during their successful careers. On our culinary programmes, our students are taught that using ingredients that are in season, not only greatly improve the flavour and nutritional value of their dishes.
In the UK, winter spans from December to February, so we have enlisted the help of cuisine Master Chef Anthony Boyd, to talk us through his favourite ingredient this season.
Chef Anthony’s favourite seasonal ingredient of the moment is Jerusalem artichokes, as he says “they are very versatile, they taste quite earthy, and just smell like…winter!”
What is a Jerusalem artichoke?
Jerusalem artichokes are actually not artichokes at all (although the taste is very similar), and they have absolutely nothing to do with Jerusalem! In fact they belong to the sunflower family, with the name being derived from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole, which was somehow translated to Jerusalem over time. Jerusalem artichokes are lumpy, pale-brown tubers with a similar appearance to ginger root, and have the texture of “a good old potato,” according to Master Chef Anthony. He says that there are two different varieties, British and French, with the French version being his favourite as it is much nuttier.
Where can you get it?
Although they are very much in season, it is unlikely that you will come across Jerusalem artichokes in your local supermarket. Master Chef Anthony recommends that you get your Jerusalem artichoke from your local farmer’s market or Whole Foods.
What can you make with it?
As previously mentioned Jerusalem artichokes are very versatile. Master Chef Anthony says that they can be used to make soups, crisps, snacks and even ice cream! But his all-time favourite dish to make with this seasonal gem is Jerusalem artichoke and potato pithivier with wild mushrooms. Pithivier is a classic French, round, enclosed pie, made with two disks of puff pastry and stuffed with filling.
Anything else interesting?
When asked if he knew anything else that was interesting about Jerusalem artichokes, Master Chef Anthony replied, “The season of the Jerusalem artichoke also coincides with truffle season which is great as these two ingredients blend together well, and the flavours complement each other perfectly. A dish that includes these two seasonal components is literally nature at its best!”
If you want to expand your culinary horizons, then have a look at our culinary programmes.