Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TURNIPS--Please Read On

There are very few foods that I don't like and almost none that I won't try.  Short of an errant egg shell in a dish, no food elicits a "yuck" from me.  In fact, "yuck" was never allowed at our table to describe food.
Growing up, potatoes were our staple starch.  Mother prepared them in a number of ways including boiling them in salted water and adding butter before serving.  That was fine with us.  Sometimes, however, she would mix them with turnips.  That did not sit well with us sisters.  We became adept at picking out the turnips and discarding them to the side of our plates.  I've never put turnips on my menu.

A few weeks ago, Andrew said he's take care of dinner.  I usually don't ask what he's planned since I'm just grateful he's in the kitchen.  I saw chicken sausage defrosting in the refrigerator and thought that a good choice.  When he arrived home from the grocery store, I was a little dismayed to see a bunch of turnips on the kitchen counter.  As a still life, their pinkish-ivory color went nicely with the kitchen decor but...on the table??  

For those of you who didn't stop reading at the word "turnips", let me assure you that this was one of the best side dishes that I've had in a long time (and I've had some good ones).  Had I not seen those raw turnips beforehand, I don't think I could have been convinced they were what I was eating.  This dish deserves to be served to dinner guests and it will be.  

Turnips with Black Mission Figs and Citrus inspired by Green Zebra Restaurant in Chicago

3 tbsp butter
2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into wedges
3 oranges, zested and juiced (1 cup juice)
1 cup dried black mission figs, quartered
2 tbsp light brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat oven to 375.  Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a shallow ovenproof saucepan.  Add the turnips and slowly allow the butter to brown around them, stirring often.  Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the remaining butter, orange juice, zest, figs and brown sugar.  Mix well and bring to a simmer.  Place in the oven and roast until the turnips are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
2.  Remove the turnips to a heated dish and pour any remaining liquid over the turnips, season with the salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.