What is That Ugly Thing?

After the recent gilding of the Brussels sprout, the food world is always looking for the “next Brussels sprout.” Or cauliflower. The unexpected popularity of a previously underused (and generally inexpensive) vegetable has become every chef’s quest. So now… sunchokes.

Confession: I had never encountered a sunchoke face-to-face until I tried the “Tuscarora” pizza at Fireside on Regent which is covered with a pile of apparent potato chips that turn out to be sunchoke chips.

Over the last couple of years, sunchokes are increasingly common on menus. Chefs seem to be dazzled by sunchokes. Why? These tubers have a mild flavor (often described as nutty, but not like artichokes). They cook quickly without too much fuss about prep, they are a low-calorie, high fiber, low-carb potato stand-in (great for diabetics) with iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

And, like potatoes, they make great chips.

They’re naturally in season late fall to early spring—in Utah, that translates to May.

The downside? Because they’re high in inulin (Google it) they have a reputation of causing flatulence if not cooked correctly. Then again, so do broccoli, artichokes (no relation,) Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and lentils. The easy solution? Cook them with lemon juice.

Pago, 878 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-532-0777

Sunchoke poutine: smoked onion, mushroom gravy, cheddar curds, pickled chiles

Provisions, 3364 S. 2300 East, SLC, 801-410-4046

Prime steak tartare with shaved chestnuts, smoked cheddar, lemon, sunchoke chips and a bit of horseradish.

Garden Cafe at Grand America, 555 S. Main St., SLC, 801-258-6708

Braised Boneless Short Rib with celeriac puree, carrots, onions, sunchokes, celery and natural jus.

Fireside on Regent, 126 S. Regent Street, SLC, 801-359-4011

The Tuscarora, a white pizza topped with sunchoke chips, fingerling potato, pancetta, ricotta and mozzarella, wood-fired in the beautiful Italian pizza oven.

Glitretind, Stein Ericksen Lodge, 7700 Stein Way, PC, 435- 645-6455

Freekeh & winter vegetables rutabaga puree featuring sunchokes, turnips, petite greens and freekeh (green wheat, a grain poised to be “the next quinoa”).

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Maloufhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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