Parsnip is one of those vegetables that is included in every stew pack sold in Newfoundland but it's also one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. I don't hear many people say they can "take it or leave it". The parsnip is a cousin of the carrot as one can readily tell by its shape, and children (and some adults) sometimes refer to them as white carrots. But carrots they are not!
Parsnips are sweeter than carrots and I find cook much faster. If one is not careful, they can be cooked to a soggy mush. (Which may account for some of the dislike.) The sweet vegetable gets even sweeter if harvested after the first frost of the year but if left too long in the ground becomes tough and woody. This ancient root vegetable takes well to soups and stews lending a wonderful flavour not imparted by any other vegetable. I know people who hate parsnip but love its flavour in a pot of soup.
As a child parsnip wasn't a favourite of mine but if mom cooked parsnip, we ate parsnip. It can be quite surprising to take a bite of the white vegetable, thinking it's a potato, to get a mouthful of the sweet root.
Dad liked parsnip and he's the one who really won me over to the vegetable's finer points. His favourite way to eat them was glazed in butter and brown sugar. Oh, were they ever good and special. Glazed parsnips would be saved for a special dinner like Christmas or Easter. You wouldn't have glazed parsnips at an everyday meal.
And with that in mind I'd like to start this year's Christmas line-up of recipes. Of course, YOU can eat these any day of the week or save them for a special meal. I will be forced to eat these parsnips in October, on a weekday, with no special guests in tow. Oh, well....that's one of the sacrifices I must make to write this blog.
1 pound bag parsnips, about 4 or 5
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter, if needed
Water as needed
Peel and trim parsnips. Cut each parsnip in half or thirds (if very long) cross-ways and then cut each piece in half length-ways.
In a medium saucepan, in a small amount of salted water, cook parsnip until tender crisp. The smaller pieces will cook much faster so remove those as they become cooked. Drain parsnip on paper toweling. This part can be done in advance and parsnip kept refrigerated until ready to finish recipe.
Over medium heat, melt butter in a large frying pan. Place the dry parsnip pieces in the butter and sauté until they start to turn a light golden. The natural sugars in the parsnip will start to caramelize. Be careful not to burn the parsnips. Lightly sprinkle half the brown sugar (1½ tablespoons) over the parsnips and turn each piece over. After about 1 minute, sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and turn again and let cook for an additional minute. Remove parsnip from pan and place on serving plate.
There may be some melted butter left in the pan but if not melt the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter in the pan and add the extra 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir together until mixture starts to bubble. Add one or two teaspoons water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add more water as needed. Dribble the brown sugar sauce over the parsnip and sprinkle lightly with nutmeg and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.
Peel and cut the parsnip in halves and quarters. Boil in a small amount of lightly salted water. I used only one large parsnip because there are only two of us to eat this today.
Remove any small pieces as they become cooked and drain on paper toweling.
Sauté parsnip in butter until lightly browned.
Sprinkle the parsnip with brown sugar on both sides. Cook for a minute on each side. Remove from pan to serving plate.
Add the remaining butter, if needed, and brown sugar to the pan. Mix and let bubble. Add a little water to mix everything smooth.
Dribble a little of the brown sugar sauce over the parsnip and sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
Ready for a special meal.