Saturday, February 14, 2009

Turnip Diaries, Part VI: The Turnip Also Rises

Contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm takes a literary turn in his next-to-last (or so he says) installment of the turnip chronicles.

The turnip was once the middleweight culinary champion of the kitchen. Do not think that most were very much impressed by that title, but it meant a lot to turnip growers. They cared not for cooking, in fact they disliked it, but they learned painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness they had felt as those who toil in the fields and orchards. There was a certain inner comfort in knowing they could knock down as good a dish as anyone, although, being very shy and thoroughly nice farmers, their talents stayed in the fields. Their star dish was the soufflé. They were taught by their elders to treat the neep as a featherweight, whether the root weighed an ounce or a pound.

Papa's Turnip Soufflé
From Fannie Farmer, 11th Edition

3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. onion or shallot, chopped
3 Tbsp. flour
1 c. milk or cream
1 c. turnip or rutabaga, mashed or riced
3 egg yolks, well beaten
3 egg whites

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and cook slowly until the onion is yellow. Add flour and blend well, stirring until it loses its raw flavor. Add milk, stirring until sauce thickens. Stir in turnip mash and eggs. Cook over low heat for 1 minute. Season to taste, adding more onion if needed. Cool at least 10 minutes.

In non-reactive bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold gently into the vegetable mixture. Spoon carefully into a baking dish. Do not butter the dish unless the soufflé is to be turned out onto a serving dish. Bake at 350 degrees until firm, about 30 minutes.

Note: This simple recipe can be used for any vegetable, but it is particularly delicious with turnips and rutabagas. Excellent as a side dish to tongue.

Read the other posts in the Turnip Diaries series: Part I: The Wapato Valley, Part II: Chestnuts, Persimmons and Turnips, Part III: Misery Loves Company, Part IV: We're In This Pickle Together, Part V: The Spicy Turnip, Part VII: WWPD (What Would Pliny Do).

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