Thursday, February 8, 2007

Mashed Rutabaga with Shallots

I'm deviating today, but not entirely. Last night was LOST night -- first Lost since it was 100º outside (only a slight exaggeration) and we deserved a break from cooking. Well, we took a break the night before for frozen pizza -- yikes -- but last night D. stopped at the fancy pants grocery store on his way home from work and got us some rolls (for our frozen onion soup, which tasted just as good as if we'd slaved for hours in the kitchen) and mashed rutabaga. I'd been hounding him to get the rutabaga ever since he bought it a few months ago: it is just so darn good. It's a great alternative to mashed potatoes, which can get dull if you eat them too often, and it's a fantastic orange. Not bright orange, but very mellow. And what a complex vegetable rutabaga is! This kind was made with shallots, which lent it even more depth.
So I hunted around and was able to locate a recipe that I believe is either quite similar or the same as the recipe they use at Fox & Obel's to make their mashed rutabaga. They do have quite a few recipes on their site, including one for mashed sweet potatoes that is intriguing -- it includes pineapple -- but unfortunately none for the rutabaga. Next time I have a craving, I'll try to get my hands on some fresh rutabaga (which has proven quite hard to find in the past: any tips on where to locate some in the Chicagoland area?) and make this recipe, which includes the major "tastes" that I found in the original, such as milk, shallots, and butter. Actually, aside from the rutabaga, those are the only ingredients in the dish. I found this particular recipe on, which I've never used as a recipe source before, but it has a pretty wide selection of various recipes. Check out their rice section -- it's packed!
You can also make mashed turnips by substituting the rutabaga with turnip, or mashed potatoes, the same way. It's a pretty basic process, but the results are creamy and divine. I'll have to play with this recipe whenever I get an actual live rutabaga to work with!

Mashed Rutabaga with Shallots
Begin by slicing 5 peeled shallots into small thin rings. You may need to halve some of the rings in order to keep them nice and small. In a saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon butter. When the pan is hot (you should see small bubbles beginning to appear under the surface) add the shallots and cook until they are golden, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
While your shallots are cooking, peel one or two rutabagas and cut into chunks, about 1 inch sized cubes. Put them in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Boil the water and simmer the rutabaga until it is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork -- about 35 minutes total.
In (yet another) pan, heat about 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of milk (now, here is where the rutabagas I ate last night may differ: I suspect they used cream to make them extremely rich, but I'm not positive. I would try them with milk first, because of the high fat content in cream.) Heat until the butter is just melted and the mixture begins simmering.
Drain your rutabaga and mash, using a food processor if you have one. I think I'll use my KitchenAid for this -- it really makes excellent mashed potatoes. Add the milk mixture in a steady stream as the processor is running until the rutabagas become extremely smooth.
Put the pureed rutabaga back into a saucepan (I would just use the milk pan, because I don't like too many extra dirty dishes around, but I suppose it would be nice to use a clean pan -- especially if you don't have to wash it!) and add the shallots. Stir while heating until it is hot enough to serve. Be sure to put some salt and pepper on the table so people can season if they desire.

I'll leave you with some tips on how to choose a good rutabaga, because if you're anything like me, you don't really even know what to look for when you do come upon them at the grocery store. The rutabaga should have a nice pear shape (like the ones above) and be purple at the tip. Choose smaller ones, if possible, because larger rutabagas tend to be tougher. Pick one with no or relatively few blemishes (as with all vegetables and fruits.) Watch out for rutabagas that seem too light, as they may be hollow and not yield enough to cook with.
Store them in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as your pantry, for up to ten days. They will dry out and become brittle when they are too old for consumption.
Want to learn more about the rutabaga? Check out the Worldwide Gourmet site, which has lots of nutritional and other information on all types of foods, as well as recipes and tips for entertaining.


Sarah said...

now i really want this! you know, i don't think i've ever even eaten a turnip....where are rutabagas from? do you think they exist in italy?
RUTABAGA!!!!!!!!(i really like saying it!) RUTABAGA!!!!!!!

K8 said...

I believe that the rutabaga is originally native to Sweden, but they probably do have them in Italy now. I think that most Europeans aren't too fond of the rutabaga because it was one of the only foods around during WWI, so people got pretty sick of them after the war.
I learned all of this from the wikipedia article on rutabagas, which also told me that before people used pumpkins to carve on Halloween? They used rutabagas. Hahhahahahha -- RUTABAGA LANTERN!!!

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