Monday, February 4, 2013

Mashed Rutabaga

Potatoes, rice and noodles are not the only comforting side dishes to nestle next to roasts and baked chicken.  Mashed rutabaga is a nice mid-winter change up.

You'll find rutabagas next to the potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash in the produce area.  They are the cantaloupe-sized turnip cousins with a heavy wax coating on them.  Also known as the Yellow Turnip, the outside is yellow with a purplish bottom.  Inside they are sunny yellow.

The wax actually makes the large round easier to handle.  To peel, place the rutabaga on a cutting board on its flattest side. Using a large chef's knife, cut a slice off one end and make this cut end your new stable base.  The wax and skin of the rutabega yield easily to a knife (not dangerously hard like an acorn squash).  Cut away the waxed skin then slice in slabs about 3/4" think.  Cut the slabs into strips and then cubes of roughly the same size. 

Mashed Rutabaga
Serves 4
1 peeled and cubed rutabaga
1/4 -1/3 cup hot milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Extra butter or vegetable oil to butter baking dish

Method
  1. Place the cubed rutabaga in a large pot and cover with water.  Allow at least one inch of water over the vegetable.  
  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a medium boil and cook until rutabaga are very tender.  The cubes should be soft enough to crush easily with the back of a fork.  This will take 20-30 minutes.  You may need to add some extra boiling water to keep the level over the cubes.  
  3. When tender, remove from heat and drain well.  Using a hand-held masher, mash the turnips allowing as much steam to escape as possible.  (Where long sleeves to prevent steam contact with skin.)  The drier you can get the rutabaga the more milk and butter they will absorb.  
  4. Once mashed, stir in most of the hot milk and the butter.  Mash these ingredients together.  Add more milk if mixture will absorb it.  Finally add salt and pepper and taste.
Mashed rutabaga can be served from the pot as is.  If you would like to hold them while your roast rests, they do very well in a buttered deep casserole in the oven at 350-400˚F for up to 20-30 minutes. They puff up slightly while in the oven during this final bake so if you have the time, this is a pleasant option that saves the cook from last minute rushing while meat is resting and carved.