My favorite new cookbook is Ottolenghi's Jerusalem, and inside is one of the most delicious recipes I've ever made with chicken: Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and Lemon. The flavors of roasted shallot, garlic, lemon, and chicken complement each other perfectly, and the Jerusalem Artichokes soak up all the lemony flavor. I decided one night to replace chicken with fennel and adapt the recipe slightly to make it vegetarian, and the results were absolutely delectable. Instead of marinating the ingredients for hours in the fridge, I toss them together and roast them immediately. I also use preserved lemons in addition to fresh lemon, and whole unpeeled garlic instead of slices, for this dish. The lemon, saffron, and fennel are just gorgeous together: the fennel caramelizes and takes on a beautiful golden color as it roasts, while all the flavors work to deepen one another in a seemingly never-ending interplay of delicious flavors and textures. The most wonderful part of this dish is that the oil that pools on the bottom of the pan is infused with all the flavors, and can simply be poured over the vegetables to make them sing even more beautifully. I served this with some lemony farro risotto I whipped up, it was just amazing.
Note: both the fresh roasted lemon slices and the preserved lemons are fully edible in this dish. —ortolan
4 as a side, 2 as a main
Fennel (bulb loosely chopped into 8-12 long pieces, 1/4 cup fronds reserved)
small Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), peeled and cut into 4 equal half moon slices
Large shallots (cut lengthwise into 4-6 pieces, similar to fennel pieces)
garlic cloves, unpeeled
lemon, sliced into thin rounds
small preserved lemons, coarsely sliced
good olive oil
combination of any fresh herbs--tarragon, thyme, rosemary, marjoram
fresh parsley, chopped
maldon sea salt, or kosher salt to taste.
freshly ground black pepper or grains of paradise
Place sunchokes in a pot of cold water, and heat until boiling. Cook for 4-6 minutes, until sunchokes are tender but not mushy. Drain and plunge into bowl of ice water to inhibit further cooking.
While sunchokes are cooking on the stove, combine all other ingredients except butter, fennel frond, and parsley in a large bowl. Add cooled sunchokes, and combine well.
Pour all ingredients into a large ceramic or glass baking dish (11x13 is good). Distribute dabs of butter on top. Roast for 25-30 minutes.
After around 30 minutes, vegetables should be glistening and golden, and the bottom of the pan should be pooling with saffron-infused oil. Remove from oven and cover with foil, and roast another 15 minutes, or until shallots are well caramelized.
To serve: Spoon all vegetables onto a platter or serving plate. Chop up 1 tablespoon of fennel fronds, and add to the saffron and lemon-infused oil left in the roasting pan, swirling to coat. Pour fennel frond-oil mixture over the vegetables. Garnish with fresh parsley, and serve.