My fear of Jerusalem artichokes will have to be conquered some other day. In the real world, Jamie Oliver, local Tesco stores do not stock Jerusalem artichokes. Radicchio and little gem lettuce were also unobtainable so, as much as it might leave Jamie horrified, I had to resort to using a bag of baby salad leaves and some new potatoes when preparing his Warm salad of crispy bacon and Jerusalem artichokes.
At least the bag of salad did contain radicchio, along with rocket, spinach and whatever awful gases they use to conserve the lettuce.
The salad was easy-peasy, although I did adapt it further, concerned that the husband might still be hungry if it weren’t bulked out a little. To that end, I mixed some shredded chicken breast meat in with the warm dressing. A rootle in the fridge yielded no parmesan so I kept back the flat-leaf parsley and scattered that on top of the finished salads instead. I also lobbed on a few cherry tomatoes.
So the Warm salad of crispy smoked bacon and Jerusalem artichokes became a Warm salad of crispy pancetta, new potatoes and chicken. It was stonkingly good. Happy days.
Warm salad of crispy smoked bacon and Jerusalem artichokes
(from Cook with Jamie: my Guide to Making You a Better Cook, p 49)
2 handfuls of large Jerusalem artichokes or new potatoes
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 radicchio or treviso (outer leaves discarded)
3 little gem lettuces, leaves washed, dried and stalks removed
a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley or chervil, leaves picked and finely sliced
extra virgin olive oil
8 rashers thickly smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 tblsps balsamic vinegar
“Scrub Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes and boil them in salted water until tender. Once cool, cut them in half and set aside. Meanwhile, carefully remove the ore of the radicchio or treviso, then halve, break apart and finely slice. Wash and dry in a salad spinner. Put the gem lettuce leaves in a large bowl with the radicchio or treviso and the parsley or chervil.
“Cut your bacon into 1cm/0.5 inch slices. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a non-stick frying pan and fry the bacon. When it’s lightly golden, add the sliced onion and your cooked and drained Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes. Fry on a medium heat until the bacon is golden and crisp, the onion is sticky and soft and the Jerusalem artichokes have sucked up all the flavours and turned crispy. The important thing to remember here is that you need enough colour, but not so much that you’re on the edge of burning everything.
“[…] Divide half the contents of your pan between four plates, then add 5 tblsps of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar to the pan, with a little pinch of salt and pepper. Mix everything together so the flavours improve and then pour immediately over the salad leaves waiting in the bowl. Toss lightly and quickly so each leaf is coated in the tasty balsamic dressing. Put a nice handful of the salad leaf mixture on top of the hot bits and pieces that are already on each plate. Eat at once as it is, or quickly shave over a little Parmesan.”
My gripe with many cookbooks is that they are not thorough enough so that you are left perplexed, spatula or spoon in mid-air, trying to figure out how to make it from Step 2 to Step 3. Not so with Jamie. If anything, he is too thorough but at least all that hand-holding will reassure total novices.