January 14, 2009

Trying Something Different - Savory Carrot and Topinambour Clafoutis

A love affair has blossomed. Between me and a humble tuber.

The topinambour.

After many winters of eying them at the market, I finally broke down and bought a half a kilo of these knobby, funny looking vegetables. Their strange appearance, like a bloated, rosy pink ginger root, has always intrigued me, but they have a bad reputation that made me keep my distance.

Our French friends all detest topinambours, also known as sunchokes or Jersualem artichokes. As they tell it, during WWII many of their parents or grandparents were forced to subsist on them when food was scarce, leaving a negative association of poverty and suffering, which they have since passed on to the subsequent generations.
Other friends admitted to being plagued by flatulence after eating topinambours. Charming.

Curiosity won in the end.

And I am so glad that it did. Topinambours have a wonderful, distinctive flavor that reminded me of sweet, nutty artichoke hearts, which I absolutely love.

So, these alien things sat in my kitchen for a few days until I finally decided what to do with them. Soups, salads and sautés were popular answers to searches for "Jerusalem artichoke recipes" or "recettes topinambours."
Then I saw Clafoutis de Carottes et Topinambours on a French blog, Dans la Cuisine d'Audinette, and was intrigued.

Intrigued enough to fiddle with the recipe a bit and voilà, my adapted version.

Savory Carrot and Topinambour Clafoutis
serves 6-8
  • 3 large carrots
  • 5 big topinambours
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the carrots and the topinambours and cut into rounds about ¼-inch thick.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the vegetables until tender when pierced with a knife, about 12-14 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, milk and thyme leaves together in a bowl.
Butter a medium sized gratin dish and scatter the carrots and topinambours over the bottom.
Pour the egg and cream mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and some salt over the top. Grind some black pepper over.
Bake in the center of the oven until the egg mixture is set and the top is golden, about 30 minutes.

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spacedlaw said...

I find it a windy root indeed but one I love dearly (because of the artichoke taste). Thanks for the recipe.

Donna Baker said...

May I suggest slicing the tubers very thin on a mandoline and then submerging them in hot oil for a short time. You'll then have "chips" that are crunchy and delicious. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. And, did you know they are very easy to grow and will reward you with a bountiful crop.

Zachary said...

Wow.. that looks fantastic!

croquecamille said...

Oh, boy! We're supposed to be getting topinambours and carrots in our CSA basket next week - I'm definitely trying this!

Loulou said...

Lucy, of Lucy's Kitchen Notebook, said that as long as they're well cooked, they won't be so windy. I'll try next time!

Yes, you may! That sounds wonderful and I've made a note of it for next time. Thanks!

It was really good! I've made savory Tomato Clafoutis before, which is divine. Wasn't sure about this recipe, but am so glad I tried it.

Please let me know what you think! Hope you enjoy it.

Bella Baita View said...

Here in northern Italy Tupinambour is a favorite raw vegetable for the bagna cauda dip. I keep hearing how it is such a windy teber, but this has not been my experience. Must depend on the person, as my husband and I love it raw.

croquecamille said...

It's in the oven now! Wine suggestion? ;)

croquecamille said...

Well, it was a big hit in our house!

Loulou said...

I'll have to buy some more and try them raw. They look like a good, crunchy vegetable. Thanks!

I forgot to offer you a wine suggestion! Oops.
So glad to hear that you liked it! Your CSA box sounds wonderful. We'll start ours again this spring.