Root vegetables never used to register high on my food radar. I have always loved sweet potatoes, but it took me longer to appreciate the virtues of carrots. And to be honest, I had no idea what a parsnip was until my early 20's.
Thank goodness I saw the light. Now I love coming up with new ways to eat all of my favorite hearty autumn vegetables, from butternut squash to rutabagas, and everything in between. Roasted is the obvious way to enjoy them, or puréed into a humble soup. If I'm really looking for comfort, I'll eat them smashed and smothered with butter. But don't forget about glazed! Glazed root vegetables are something you frequently see on the Southern holiday table, or perhaps at a meat-and-three, but it's a shame they don't turn up more often.
Here I took a classic recipe of water, sugar, and butter, and made what I think is something even better. I love the mild bitterness of turnip roots — and they are popping up everywhere at Georgia farmers' markets right now — so I used them as my veggie base. (I also threw in carrots this time, but this recipe is great with any mix of roots.) Then I slowly browned the butter until it was a toasty shade of caramel. Instead of cooking the vegetables in plain old water, I used some rich homemade chicken stock I had squirreled away in my freezer. Lastly, pure maple syrup replaced the granulated sugar, and a splash of cider vinegar rounded out all of the flavors.
The best part about this recipe is that it comes together in only 20 minutes (aside from the chopping), and that's all hands off. The sweet, syrupy glaze and the starchy, bitter turnips are a match made in heaven. Even my non-vegetable-eating boyfriend approves! So whether you are planning your Thanksgiving menu, or just Monday night dinner, give this delicious recipe a try.
Glazed Root Vegetables
1 pounds turnips, peeled and diced
1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large skillet or braising pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until it begins to foam and bubble and has a nutty aroma. Once the butter begins to turn a golden brown, add the turnips and carrots and toss to coat.
Add the chicken stock, maple syrup, and cider vinegar to the skillet and cover. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil; cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to cook until the sauce is thickened and shiny, and the vegetables are tender, approximately 7-10 minutes. Turn off heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly chopped herbs, if desired.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)