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Clementine Sunchoke Puree

This puree was inspired by a dish we had at Alinea, during the most impressive meal I have ever been served. The dish that inspired us was lobster (butter-poached, I believe), served with lobster mousse, sunchoke puree, and sweet orange, all surrounded by the hyacinth aroma released by boiling water being poured over hyacinths in the bowl holding the smaller bowl of edible food. It was one of the most luxurious experiences I have ever had, and it entirely justified my weekend jaunt to Chicago for the sake of one meal at Alinea.

How can we bring the faintest suggestion of this wonderment back to our fundamentally time-pressed readers back home, we wondered. Well, not many people are going to cook lobster at home. That’s just uncommon, for some reason. (I suspect most people are reluctant to experiment on spendy foods, and also squeamish about killing their own meats.) Likewise, putting together a dish of hyacinth aroma isn’t very likely for most home cooks, intoxicating as it was. So, citrus and sunchokes remained.

Here is a pared down, but still completely delicious, ultra-simple side dish, pairing the lush simplicity of creamy sunchoke puree with the brightness of clementines, which I vastly prefer to oranges, anyways.

As for the garnish, well, all things are improved by homemade bacon.

Clementine Sunchoke Puree
1 1/2 lbs sunchokes (a/k/a jerusalem artichokes)
3 tbsp heavy cream
Juice of 1 clementine (approximately 1/4 C)
A pinch of clementine zest, plus more for garnish
1 tsp argan oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bacon to taste

Peel the sunchokes, chop them into 1 inch chunks, and simmer 10 minutes in salted water. Drain, then puree with all ingredients except argan oil and bacon.

Cut your bacon into little strips and fry it up. Remove it to drain on a paper towel covered plate.

Reheat the puree, and stir in the argan oil. Serve garnished with bacon and a pinch of zest.

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7 Responses to “Clementine Sunchoke Puree”

  1. Dana says:

    Wow, this sounds fabulous!! I lived in Chicago for a bit, but sadly never got to try Alinea…

  2. Lisa says:

    Oh how I have missed you!!

    This side dish sounds totally delish and I can just imagine the flavors pairing beautifully with lobster. *swoon*

    So I’d never heard of this restaurant (yeah I know.. sheltered life) and now you make me want to get in the car and GO.

    Happy holidays, sweetie!

  3. Michael says:

    Chicago is a tad too far to drive for lunch from the west coast, but the recipe for Clementine Sunchoke Puree sounds like it would certainly be worth a try.

  4. mr.ed says:

    When a lobster cooks, the steam built up inside whistles as it escapes-like a teapot. Some say the critter’s screaming in pain. It ain’t. If you’re still not convinced, have somebody else cook and go out for a bitter. Or a quickie.
    Then come in and polish off the victim..oops, sorry!

  5. Gabi says:

    I made your fabulous puree last night. I had to substitute for the argan oil which I didn’t have-so I used hazelnut oil. I served it with filet of sole sauted in butter with some almonds! Thanks for inspiring me to try sunchokes this way- they were so good.

  6. Danielle says:

    Dana – What a shame!

    Lisa – You should go! It’s brilliant, it’s amazing, and Chicago is a fun city for a weekend trip.

    Michael – Enjoy!

    mr.ed – Isn’t it kinder to just chop off their heads in one blow, though, like turtles?

    Gabi – I’m thrilled to hear you liked it! Yum, hazelnut oil is really good stuff, too. I bet that was a wonderful substitution.

  7. sugarlaws says:

    Gorgeous! It looks almost like a foam in the picture. I’ve never cooked sunchokes before, but this looks like a great way to start!

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