Turnip for the books

Transform the humble root veg into something seductive. Photographs: Harry Weir

 

VANESSA’S WAY: POT ROAST CHICKEN WITH TURNIP, CARROT AND BABY POTATOES

When I told my book club my Two Ways With theme for this week was turnip, I was met with unified groans. It did not surprise me as many a Swiss au pair has sat at our dinner table wondering why we were occasionally eating root vegetables (parsnip included) that they had only ever seen fed to farm animals.

But a good smothering of butter makes boiled turnip a delicious accompaniment to roast chicken.

This one-pot dish is fuss-free, yet the chicken renders the most delicious stock which seeps into the root vegetables. For a true two ways approach, you can steam any remaining turnip with carrots and roughly mash to mop up the glorious juices.

GARY’S WAY: SPICED TURNIP AND PORK PASTIES

I’m not sure what age I was when Daddy started getting more involved in the cooking at home. It seemed to come out of the blue, but as soon as he started, he became an expert, in his opinion, in all things spuds, bacon, cabbage and turnips.

It goes against all that I believe in as a chef, but he boils the life out of his turnips then fries them in a little oil, with loads of pepper and salt. They’re gorgeous.

He does something similar with cabbage ... but let’s move on. One destroyed vegetable is enough for one day. Al dente vegetables, it would seem, don’t belong in John O’Hanlon’s house.

One thing is for certain though, spices, and pepper in particular, are lovely with turnips. This dish is partly inspired by a mixture of the famous Cornish pastie and my own Tourtière, which is a French-Canadian meat pie that I always serve at Christmas (my recipe for it is available online at irishtimes.com). I urge everyone to try their hand at a Tourtière at some stage. But start with these easy little pies.

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