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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