Mashed Rutabaga with Vanilla & Crispy Shallots

Serves 4-6.

Rutabaga mash is a classic holiday side here in New England, where we simply call it ‘turnip.’ Rutabagas are larger and less bitter than other types of turnip, and are often coated with wax to extend their shelf life. (Be sure to cut away the peel and wax before cooking them.)

In this recipe, we play up rutabaga’s secretly sweet nature by caramelizing it before simmering with vanilla and a few other spices. The crispy shallot garnish is optional but delicious — you could substitute chopped, toasted hazelnuts if you haven’t the patience for frying shallots.

Note: Rutabagas go by several other names including yellow turnips, Swedes, and neeps.

3 tablespoons butter
4–5 cups peeled, cubed rutabaga (1-inch cubes; from 1½  –2 pounds)
½ teaspoon sea salt (to taste; less if using salted butter)
2 bay leaves
3 allspice berries
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1–2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly grated nutmeg

For the crispy shallots:
½ cup shallot rings (1/8-inch thick; from a medium shallot)
3 tablespoons neutral oil
Sea salt, to taste

Make the mash  Put the butter into a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat. When the butter melts and foams, add the rutabaga. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most sides of the cubes are caramelized, 10–12 minutes. Add the salt to the pan plus 3 cups of warm water and increase the heat. When the liquids reach a rolling boil, reduce the heat so that they are simmering vigorously. Add the bay leaves, allspice berries, and vanilla.

Continue cooking until the rutabaga is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 25–35 minutes. Drain the cooking liquid into a bowl leaving about ½ cup in the pan. Pick out the spices, including the vanilla bean, then mash or purée the rutabaga, adding reserved cooking liquids as needed. Stir in the white pepper, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Taste and add salt if needed.

Fry the shallots  (Do this no more than an hour before serving.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and set it close to the stove.

Put the oil and shallots into a large non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Stir to coat the shallot rings with oil; fry until just golden brown (they burn very quickly after this point). Use a slotted spoon to scoop the shallots out of the skillet and onto the paper towels. Let them cool for about 5 minutes (they’ll crisp as they cool) then sprinkle with salt.

Serve  Mound the rutabaga in a serving bowl and top with the shallots.


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