THIS recipe combines artichokes with mushrooms, which are also in season now, and bacon, all bound together in a creamy sauce with a cheesy gratin topping. Nice and warming, very savoury and tasty and perfect as an autumnal starter or lunch.
450g (1lb) Jerusalem artichokes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 rashers streaky bacon – smoked, snipped into strips
110g (4oz) mushrooms, sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
A few fresh sage leaves
170g (6oz) crème fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7/Aga Roasting Oven.
2. Scrub the artichokes well and bring up to the boil in a pan of salted water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Depending on their size the artichokes will probably be slightly underdone. They should not be bursting out of their skins. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle.
3. If the skins are thin, pale coloured and unblemished you won’t need to peel the artichokes. If not, carefully pull away the skins with a knife. It doesn’t matter if some crumble a little. Slice into rounds as thick as a £1 coin. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
4. Dry fry the strips of bacon in a sauté pan until golden brown and beginning to crisp up. Add to the artichokes. Heat a little olive oil in the same pan, add the mushrooms, season, and fry until all the moisture has evaporated and they begin to brown. Add to the artichokes and mix everything gently together. Divide between six small ovenproof dishes or ramekins.
5. Mix together the crème fraiche, Dijon mustard and some seasoning and spoon over the pots. Scatter with a little Parmesan and a few dried breadcrumbs.
6. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.
The pots can be made up to a day in advance, covered and kept in the fridge until required. Remember to bring back to room temperature before cooking.