What ARE you?!

Every Monday is like Christmas since we’ve signed up to Home Organics (sorry for constantly going on about this new service but I can’t help it, it’s just too awesome).  I work evenings so the bag is delivered to our house when I’m out.  Like an excited child who can’t wait ’til Chrismtas morn, I’ve been texting Niall getting him to tell me what goodies await me at home.  This week, the text went something like this:

“Mushrooms, rocket, bananas, broccoli, oranges, turnip, apples, avocado, eggs and weird yokes.”

The aforementioned “weird yokes” are the Jerusalem Artichokes pictured above.  I really had no idea what in the what to do with them.

I consulted the HO blog and found this recipe.  I also consulted my new BFF Book, The Flavour Thesaurus, which has a chapter on Globe Artichokes.  There was mention of an artichoke based rigatoni and cream bake that caught my attention and reminded me of Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese (as cooked by Tony’s Kitchen here) wherein a lightbulb went off in my head (*bing!*) and I knew what I was going to attempt with these crazy little weird yokes.

A RIGATONI AND ROASTED JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE BAKE WITH A ROSEMARY AND BACON CRUST!!  HUZZAH!

What you need for a Jerusalem Artichoke Rigatoni Bake for 6 lucky people

For the pasta bit:

About 600g of Jerusalem Artichokes, scrubbed but not peeled – these are, of course, hard to find but are in season right now, so you should be able to get them at a Farmer’s Market.

300g of rigatoni pasta

200ml of creme fraiche – I use half fat but that’s just because I’m in denial.

150g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

4 slices of streaky bacon, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

For the breadcrumb topping:

2 slices of stale-ish bread

4 slices of streaky bacon, unchopped

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat your oven to 200 degrees C/Gas Mark 6.

Put your 4 slices of streaky bacon for the breadcrumb topping in an ovenproof dish/roasting tin, big enough to fit the entire bake, whatever you would usually use for Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  You’re only going to need the one dish.  Put this into the oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the bacon crisps up.

In the meantime, get a bowl of cold water and squeeze some lemon juice into it.  Chop your scrubbed but not chopped Jerusalem Artichokes into 1/2 cm slices.  They discolour very quickly so put them into your lemon water, which will keep them good ’til you need them.

Your bacon should be done now.  Take it out of the oven dish and put aside.  In the same roasting dish/tin – don’t wash it because you want that bacon flavour – throw in your Jerusalem artichokes and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast them for 25- 30 minutes, tossing every once in a while.  They’ll start looking a lot like potatoes.

Put a large pot of water on the boil.  Boil your rigatoni – usually takes about 14 minutes – and drain into another bowl, saving the pasta water and putting it aside.

Back to the artichokes.  In the last fiften minutes of cooking, add your chopped bacon, making sure to mix everything all around so the ‘chokes get to say hai to that lovely bacon flavour.   In the last 5 minutes, add the chopped garlic, combining well.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend your bread slices, rosemary leaves and the 4 original streaky bacon bits to make the AMAZEBALL breadcrumb topping.  Adding two tablespoons of olive oil will help it go lovely and crunchy when cooking.

Once the artichokes, bacon and garlic are cooked – it’ll be lovely and golden and tender – take the dish/tin out of the oven and put it over a low heat on the hob.  Now add your cooked rigatoni.  Then your (redundantly half-fat) creme fraiche and Parmesan cheese.  Finally add about 200ml of your reserved pasta water.  Mix everything really well so it’s all combined and creamy.  Add more of your pasta water if you think it needs to be creamier.

Now sprinkle your breadcrumbs all over the top.  Pop into the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s gorgeously golden and bubbling.

WIN!

ZNOMZ

TUNE

You can have a listen to my RTE 2xm show from this week via the soundcloud stream below.  Hope you like!