Tip Of the Week-Piccolo Parsnips
In the last couple of years they have begun to appear in the produce section of your supermarkets.
Piccolo parsnips are a baby version of one of Britain's favourite vegetables and I want to share with my readers a few different ideas of how to use them. Don't just think of using them for your Sunday roast, they are great in salads, starters and even breads. These baby versions will still need blanching (in boiling salted water) if you intend to cook them, but for salads and coleslaws just treat them as you would raw carrots.
Winter Piccolo Parsnip and Root Vegetable Slaw with Apple
½ small red cabbage
½ small Savoy cabbage
1 Pink Lady apple, cored and cut into quarters
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
150g Piccolo parsnips, washed, trimmed and cut into julienne strips
Sea salt and black pepper
Shred the cabbage on a mandolin or chop finely with a knife. Slice the apple very finely and mix together with the parsley, cabbage, spring onion and Piccolo parsnips. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add the dressing to the coleslaw, mix well.
1 tbsp grain mustard
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Mix all of the dressing ingredients together.
Chef's Tip: I sometimes add yoghurt or crème fraiche to this to make a creamy version ? delicious. You can also use chopped walnuts or toasted pine nuts as well if you wish.
Serve with Festive Ham (recipe below)
1 un-smoked boneless gammon, weighing about 5kg cooked
1/2 tbsp each coriander and fennel seeds
30 cloves, approximately
1 small star anise
3 juniper berries
300g Demerara sugar
250g pot Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7
Toast the spices apart from the cloves in a dry frying pan until they release their fragrance. Grind in a pestle and mortar, then tip into a food processer with the sugar and blitz everything to make a spice mix.
Score the fat of the ham in a criss-cross and brush with the spice mix and push a clove into each square of fat. Roast for 30-35 minute until the glaze has completely caramelized and becomes sticky. Allow the ham to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving
Chef's Tip: To boil the ham, cover the ham in cold water in a large pan and add 1 onion peeled and cut in half, 8 peppercorns 1 tbsp cider vinegar and 1 tbsp brown soft sugar. Bring to the boil and skim any deposits off the water and simmer very gently until cooked, 25-30 minutes per 500g of ham or gammon.
For this next recipe think of cool autumn lunches where you need something more substantial than a sandwich. Here the combination of poached egg, smoky taste of Haddock with a creamy sauce to bring all the flavours together.
Smoked Haddock and Piccolo Parsnip Hash, Poached Eggs and Cream sauce
1 pint of milk
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 fresh bay leaf
400g naturally smoked haddock fillet*
A sprig of thyme
2 large potatoes peeled, cut into chunks
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
150g Piccolo parsnips, washed, trimmed and blanched
1 leek, trimmed, cut in small rings
100g bacon lardons
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Sea salt and black pepper
4 large very fresh eggs
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of ½ lemon
zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
For the cream sauce; heat the cream until boiling, then boil for 3 minutes to reduce. Add the mustard, lemon juice and zest then sea salt and black pepper. The sauce will thicken. Season to taste and set aside.
To cook the Piccolo Parsnip Hash; place the milk in a saucepan with the onion and bay leaf and bring to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Return the pan back to the heat and add the smoked haddock fillet. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside, strain the cooking liquid and reserve.
Place the cooking milk back in a clean pan, add a sprig of thyme and add the potatoes and cook them until just tender, about 10 minutes drain well and discard the milk.
Flake the fish, discarding any bones or skin and set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and then add the bacon lardons and fry until slightly brown then add the potatoes and parsnips, and fry for a further 4-5 minutes or until they are cooked and slightly coloured.
Turn down the heat and add the leeks cooking until they are soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the flaked haddock and chopped parsley then season with sea salt and black pepper.
Next, poach the eggs in simmering water, seasoned with salt pepper a 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar for every litre of water. Crack a very fresh egg into a coffee cup and stir the water and slide the egg in to the centre of the pan after 2-3 minutes of cooking. Lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon and lower them into iced water to stop the cooking process.
Divide the Smoked Haddock and Parsnip Hash between 4 warm pasta bowls.
Reheat poached eggs by gently dropping them into the boiling poaching water for 30 seconds.
Drain with a slotted spoon a place an egg on each portion of hash and the drizzle over the warm cream sauce and serve.
*When ever possible buy naturally smoked Haddock rather the bright yellow/orange stuff.
For this final recipe, I wanted to show how truely versatile parsnips can be.
Piccolo Parsnip and Rosemary Bread (Serves 4-6)
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
250g self-raising flour
A good pinch of mustard powder
1 tsp sea salt and black pepper
175g Piccolo parsnips, washed and trimmed
75g Parmesan or mature cheddar, finely grated
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp milk
Rosemary sprigs, to decorate the top
A little rapeseed oil
Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5
Heat a small frying pan over a gentle heat, add the butter and sweat the onion in the butter until soft, but not coloured and leave to cool.
Sift the flour, mustard powder and salt into a large bowl; grate the Piccolo parsnips, skin as well into the flour. Add 50g of the parmesan or cheddar cheese, along with chopped rosemary and onion. Season with a little black pepper. Now lightly beat the eggs and milk together, add a little at a time to the flour mixture, mixing with a palette knife until you have rough, loose sticky dough. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet and with floured hands shape it into a 15cm/6inch rough round, then make a cross with the back of the knife. Scatter with the extra 25g of cheese and sprinkle with a little flour. Dip some rosemary sprigs into a little rapeseed oil and place on top of the bread. Bake at the top of the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Serve it warm with lashings of butter.
Chef's Tip: You can blitz the Piccolo parsnips to a fine chop in the food processor, it's quicker and easier) also with the piccolo you do not have to peel them, that's so good.
A big thanks to the good people of www.piccoloparsnip.co.uk for the photos and for the samples they gave me to play with.
Two little known facts about parsnips are that that they taste really good raw and they make great ice cream!
In Tudor times, in England, parsnips were a common ingredient in bread. Indeed in Elizabethan times parsnips were often used to sweeten recipes because they were so much cheaper than using sugar.
In Scotland parsnips are still known as White Carrots.
In Roman times parsnips were believed to have been an aphrodisiac.
Parsnips can be made into wine or a parsnip fizz and Irish beer is often made from the roots of parsnips boiled in water and hops. Parsnips are commonly served fried, roasted, boiled or steamed and can be used as a thickener in certain types of soup.
Parsnips are a root vegetable related to the carrot family.