Why It Works
- Salting the boiling water ensures the sunchokes are properly seasoned.
- Flattening the sunchokes after boiling provides an even surface for browning in a skillet.
- Adding butter toward the end ensures it won't burn.
Sunchokes, which also go by the name Jerusalem artichokes, are edible tubers that are in season during the fall and the spring. You can prepare sunchokes in a number of different ways, including raw, but we're partial to the simplicity of this method, in which they're treated in the same way you would a small potato, like a fingerling. The cleaned and trimmed sunchokes are boiled in salted water until just tender, smashed, then fried crisp in a cast iron pan, and right at the end are tossed with butter, for richness, and some freshly picked thyme leaves.
- 1 pound (450g) sunchokes, rinsed and trimmed of any dark spots
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (20ml) canola or other neutral oil
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30g) unsalted butter
- Large pinch freshly picked thyme leaves
- Flaky salt, such as Maldon, for serving
In a medium saucepan, cover sunchokes with 1 inch cold water. Season generously with salt (the water should taste nicely salted, as if you were seasoning soup). Set over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until paring knife inserted into a sunchoke meets little resistance, about 10 minutes; be careful not to overcook.
Drain sunchokes using fine-mesh strainer or colander. When cool enough to handle, place sunchokes on work surface or cutting board. Working 1 sunchoke at a time, use the bottom of a heavy skillet to press firmly on each sunchoke until it is flattened but not still in one piece; take care not to press so hard that the sunchokes break apart.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add sunchokes in a single layer and cook without moving until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip sunchokes, then add butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add half of thyme to the melted butter and continue to cook, spooning butter over sunchokes, until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.
Transfer sunchokes to a serving plate and spoon the thyme butter on top. Garnish with remaining freshly picked thyme leaves and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve immediately.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The sunchokes can be boiled up to 1 day in advance, then drained, pressed flat, and refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use. They will re-warm during the searing and basting step.