Turkey & Sunchoke Pot Pie with Crunchy Sweet Potato Crust
F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 6 11/23/18
I was first introduced to sunchokes by accident. Well, actually, it was more a matter of them being thrust on me than a gentle discovery. In the early days of my local food crush, I saw an ad for someone selling horseradish root from their backyard garden. Being new to gardening and having a few empty beds to fill, I made the hour drive to pick some up.
When I arrived at the suburban neighborhood, I was surprised to see a man standing in his driveway, digging along his white picket fence, dividing tubers in the two-foot section of soil between pavement and plastic. He waved me in, greeted me with a gritty grip, and handed me a box of horseradish. As I stood there making small talk with him, I was in awe of how much food he was growing in his tiny lot and how much joy he seemed to take in gardening. His neighbors clearly did not share the same interest; their landscaped lawns trimmed short and lined with annuals blooms.
But the plot was not only productive, it was truly beautiful. Tall yellow flowers shaded the place we were standing and created an extra layer of privacy between his house and the next. I asked about these plants, guessing they were a type of sunflower meant for decoration only. It was then that the man pointed to the basket of tubers he had been collecting from the ground beneath these towering blossoms.
“Every had a Jerusalem artichoke?” he asked. I hadn’t. And these didn’t look anything like the artichokes I had seen in the store. “Here, take some! I have more than I know what to do with and nobody else in my family eats them.”
“Should I plant them or eat them?” I wondered.
“Both- plenty there to have a taste and save some too.” He handed me the basket and turned away to continue his work.
And with that, I was the bewildered new owner of 5 lbs. of Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) that I had no clue how to handle. The planting story is one to tell for another day, but after a bit of research, I discovered that preparing them for eating can be a bit tricky too. You see, sunchokes have another charming nickname that the man neglected to tell me. Fartichokes.
As it turns out, sunchokes have a high amount of a polysaccharide called “inulin” in them. Inulin has actually gained some popularity as a prebiotic supplement to improve gut health. Read more about the health benefits of inulin here. But the problem with it is that the human body cannot digest inulin, and when eaten in large amounts, the bacteria in the lower intestine breaks it down, producing methane in the process. Resulting in an uncomfortable and embarrassing side effect.
Not to worry, dear friends, there is a solution. Just boil your sunchokes in an acid solution (like lemon juice or vinegar) to break down the inulin into digestible fructose and glucose. No more school yard name calling for these underappreciated roots. And then you can use them as a replacement for starchy potatoes in this tasty comfort food favorite.
For the pot pie:
4 cups cooked, shredded, pasture raised organic turkey
2 cups chopped organic carrots
2 cups chopped organic sunchokes
1 cup organic lemon juice
1 cup water
1 small organic leek
4 cups organic turkey stock
2 Tbs arrowroot powder dissolved in ½ cup water
2 tsp organic garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt
For the crust:
3 medium organic sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 pasture raised organic egg
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp rep pepper flakes
Organic parmesan cheese for dusting, if desired
For the filling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Combine 2 cups lemon juice with 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add chopped sunchokes. Cover with a lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped carrots (it’s okay if they are not completely submerged in lemon juice solution), replace the lid and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Strain sunchokes and carrots through a wire mesh colander and allow to cool. Discard lemon juice. (This makes a tasty treat for your chickens if you soak their feed in it overnight!)
- While sunchokes and carrots are cooking, heat turkey stock in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then add arrowroot powder/water solution and bring to a boil again to thicken. Simmer until it reaches a gravy-like consistency and season with garlic powder and sea salt.
- Add cooked turkey, sunchokes, carrots and leeks to a large bowl. Stir to combine, then lay in a 9×13” baking dish in an even layer.
- Pour gravy over the meat and vegetables evenly.
For the crust
- Place shredded sweet potato in a clean lint-free towel and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Add the dried sweet potato shreds to a large bowl.
- Whisk the egg with sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Add to bowl with sweet potato and mix well.
- Spread the sweet potato and egg mixture over the filling in an even layer. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn up the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until top is browned and crunchy.