Sunday, March 6, 2016

Browned Butter Braised Baby Turnips

Sweet baby turnips, cooked till tender then pan-roasted in browned butter are seasoned with garlic and thyme for a special side dish where this much maligned root vegetable shines.

When I say much maligned, I am talking about by me personally. When I was young, my mom made a delicious vegetable soup with beef that was the perfect meal for a chilly day, except that in addition to chunks of potato, she also added similarly cut turnips. Try as I might when serving my bowl, I invariably ended up with a turnip or two. I did not like turnips, not one bit. The potential of the unexpected bitter bite made eating that otherwise tasty soup like spooning my way through a minefield of bitter turnips that might be masquerading as innocent potatoes.

I am more fifty years old now and I decided at the end of last year that I should give turnips another try. After all, some say that our tastes change every seven years and it has probably been a good 35 or 40 since I last accidently ate a turnip. (I certainly never ate one intentionally.) My mom says that since turnips are a winter crop, that is when they are they are tender and most flavorful.  

Before Christmas I bought a few and started searching “turnip recipes for haters”  and “turnip recipes for turnip haters.” A surprising number show up! Time for a true confession: Despite the research and initial enthusiasm my motivation was low and I ended up conveniently forgetting the turnips in the vegetable drawer. I found them there, wizened, in the new year and threw them away with just the slightest twinge of regret and guilt for wasting food.

When the root vegetable event was announced for Sunday Supper, I knew what I had to do: Pull up my big girl panties, buy some more turnips and get serious about creating a recipe that I might eat. I found some baby turnips that said, “Naturally sweet and tender” which seemed like a promising place to start. The baby turnips brought to mind a recipe I had tested for America's Test Kitchen for brown butter braised new potatoes so the recipe part was settled quickly, even as I put the babies in my shopping basket.

I am pleased to tell you that I am now a turnip eater. At least of baby ones cooked with browned butter, garlic and thyme. Sure, some of them were still a little bitter but not any more than Brussels sprouts, which I adore.

Small turnips work best with this recipe, but you could also use larger turnips and quarter them.

1 lb or 450g baby turnips
1 cup or 240ml water
3 tablespoons or 43g unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra to garnish, if desired
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Top and tail the turnips. That is, trim both the root and the stem ends down to the white part. Cut the baby turnips in half.

Arrange turnips in single layer, cut side down, in a large non-stick skillet.

Add water, butter, garlic, thyme, and salt and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until turnips are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer garlic to small bowl with the lemon juice. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut the garlic into small bits. Add in a few generous grinds of fresh black pepper.

Increase the heat under the uncovered turnip pan to medium-high and vigorously simmer, swirling the pan occasionally, until the water completely evaporates and the butter starts to sizzle, 7 to 10 minutes.

Continue to cook turnips, swirling pan frequently, until butter browns and turnips are golden and roasty looking, 6-7 minutes longer.

Just at the end, add the garlic/lemon juice mixture and toss to thoroughly coat.

If you are transferring the baby turnips to a serving bowl, make sure to scrape the pan with a silicone spatula and drizzle all the lovely browned butter over them.

Garnish with additional thyme, if desired.


Are you a fan of root vegetables? If your answer is yes, you are in for a treat this week with such a great line up of recipes from our Sunday Supper tastemakers. If not, perhaps we’ll win you over! Many thanks to Cindy from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings who is hosting this week.


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