Glacé carrots, parsnips and pearl onions

Posted in Fall, Savory, Side Dish, Uncategorized, Vegetable, Winter on Jan 09, 2010

070 Well, this is a cheery photo to start off with, right?  Look at my  happy, happy son, eating his vegetables with nary a mite of pushback.  Hah!

First, a little background.  When I was in middle school, I was in the GATE program.  If I remember correctly, that stands for Gifted and Talented Education, but it has been a number of years, and it might have actually meant something else.  I wasn’t sure why I was in the program, and in fact, when I was asked to participate, I told them no.  The school called my mom, and she told me I had to do it.  What exactly I was objecting to, I’ll never know.

In any case, the leader of the GATE kids was a teacher whose name escapes me right this minute (clearly, whatever got me into the program was not memory related) who was either from France, or his parents had been.  Often, our field trips and extra-curricular activities had a tinge of the Gallic to them.  We visited museums, created art en plein air, learned some classic French insults and made up a few of our own, and most memorably for me, we learned to cook.  Not a whole lot, but this teacher (why can’t I remember his name?!?  He clearly made a big impression.  I can see his face in my mind right now…) would pull us out of our regular classes to learn to make cheese souffles and crusty french bread.  In fact, being able to leave math to go punch down my dough, feeling the yield of the glossy mass and smelling the yeast ranks up there as one of those formative memories from that period of my life.  Not a bad moment to remember, considering this was, like, sixth or seventh grade and I was neck deep in tween drama most of the time.

Anyway, one time, we were asked to bring some vegetables from home.  Other kids brought carrots, but I was asked to bring pearl onions.  Not my favorite veggie, to be sure, and I was not so enthusiastic when I found out that we’d be eating the results of our cooking.  I didn’t know we’d be slowly sauteing the veggies in butter until they were tender, and then finishing with a bit of chicken broth so that the veggies were tender, flavorful and amazing.  Those pearl onions made me reconsider my dislike – and I have never looked back.  So when I found these little beauties at Trader Joes a while back, I tossed them in the cart.

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Peeling these little suckers the old fashioned way could have been extremely time-consuming, but thanks to that old teacher of mine, I knew that a quick boil and then ice bath would let the skins slip off quickly.  You can see a demo of how to do this here.

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On that same shopping trip, the Chef had insisted that we purchase a bag of parsnips.  I’ve never eaten parsnips before, and I know they are supposed to be quite versatile, but I wasn’t sure how to approach them as a solo vegetable dish.  So I chopped up a couple of parsnips, a couple of carrots and tossed in some garlic and pearl onions for good measure.  Oh, and a stick of butter.  Heh.  (I have a 17″ diameter cast iron skillet, so even an whole stick of butter creates a very shallow layer of fat in the pan.)

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So, with the butter melted but kept at a low heat, I added the veggies and let them cook slowly, until they were tender.  This took about 8 minutes.  I think with classic glacé dishes, you don’t really want the vegetables to get a dark color, but I like mine caramelized.  Plus, I know jack about classic anything, so I do what I want, sometimes to disastrous results.   Danger is my middle name, people.

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Once the veggies were tender and pretty over low heat, I added about 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered the veggies for another 25 minutes, still over low heat.

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See?  Aren’t they pretty, even if they are a bit over-the-top with the caramelized goodness?  I served them with some baked, breaded cod patties and some instant “mashed” “potatoes” that my husband had brought home from the deli at the grocery store.  I don’t recommend the crazy fake potatoes, but I do recommend cooking your parsnips, carrots and onions this way.  They were really, really delicious.

Of course, The Boy ate a few obligatory bites of the carrots, parsnips and onions, but complained the whole time.  They are too mushy!  Too buttery!  Too slimy!  Too WHATEVER.  He did eat about half of the small serving I had given him, but it was not well received.  The girls were also not big fans of this, although they did finish their portions.  Oh, well.  MORE FOR ME.

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  1. buffi says:

    Too buttery? How is that even possible??? Jenny, those look delicious. I’ve never been brave enough to attempt parsnips (they seem dangerously close to turnips somehow), so I totally give you kudos!



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