Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fondant turnip, swede and potato with savoy cabbage and bacon

Is there a meal more Irish than bacon and cabbage?
It is a national staple, cabbage, spuds, root veg and pork.
Most North Western European countries have variants on it, the continentals with their smoked sausage for example.
This meal, with all veg pulled from the garden just gives an Irish classic a little French twist in cooking the root vegetables in a slightly different way.
The root veg were cooked fondant, using up the same chicken stock that went into the Parsnip risotto and a parsnip soup - really adding value for money to a roast chicken meal.

As well as that, from this meal the water in which the bacon and greens are cooked can be reserved as the base stock for a really tasty and very Irish Beetroot soup.

In the picture above you can see two Irish heritage varieties of the turnip family - the Tipperary turnip and the Western Perfection swede both purchased from the Irish seed savers association

For American and Canadian readers, turnips and swedes are basically Irish rutabaga.

The Tipperary in particular did very well in the garden when other more modern types suffered from various root pests. It has a lovely old fashioned peppery taste.
Western perfection was slower growing, but has a very nice rich mellow flavour.

I really like what the seed savers are doing in Clare, and I believe what they are doing is important, preserving bio-diversity. Rather than relying on the same mass produced types, its nice to have variety in texture and flavour - and its safer to have a wide range of crops.

This is a great way to use up small veg. My turnips were grown in too much shade, so never really got up to a full size, something that will be rectified next year with the chopping of a few trees.

The cabbage is a small winter savoy type, a lovely dark green crinkly leaf, and with this I also cooked the striped turnip leaves.

Also in the pic is the Atika root parsley that is fast becoming indispensable in my cooking for both its leaf and its root, and its so easy to grow - even in tubs.
I got the atika seed from the Real Seed Company in the UK, where I also got the lovely heritage carrots I used to make false apricot and false marmalade preserves.
The parsley crop will last the winter, as with the root crown it is very easy to dry.

The bacon is straight forward, simply cover with boiling water, add a couple of bay leaves and simmer for 50 minutes. When this is down, its time to start on the fondant vegetables.
This is a great way to use up small veg. My turnips were grown in too much shade, so never really got up to a full size, something that will be rectified next year with the chopping of a few trees.

The flavour is rich and buttery. As always, I used cuinneog butter - mostly for the flavour but also to support a small Irish company and reduce food miles.

You can, of course, do only potato's or other root veg, I just decided to do a mix.
Funnily enough, one of the few other turnip fondant recipes I found on the internet were the Hairy Bikers who I have mentioned before, so its also a variation on a north of England staple veg.

2 small turnip
2 small suede
2 small beetroot
2 small potato (I used kerr pink)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
160 gm Cuinneog butter
80 ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Thyme

Peel the veg. Reserve the turnip, beetroot and swede leaves for the greens.
Then cut the veg in slices to about 2 cm thick.
The veg has to have a flat top and bottom, like a flat barrel shape.
Real chiefs at this stage use cookie cutters to give an even, all round shape.
I just trimmed with a peeler around the sides, the important part is to bevel the edges to prevent burning.
Melt 160 grams of Cuinneog butter in a heavy bottomed pot on a medium heat.

When this was bubbling I started to add the veg.

I used beets, turnip, swede and potato. All of these cook at different speeds so I staggered the cooking - i.e. only after the beets got their first turn did the turnip and swede go in, and only after they were turned did the potato go in.
The vegetables in total took about 12 minutes to start going a golden brown.
At this stage add two crushed cloves of garlic and the herbs.
After about 3 minutes stirring in the garlic and herbs add 80ml of chicken stock.
A word of warning - it will start to spit and bubble.
Allow the veg to simmer for 30 minutes or until tender and the stock is absorbed.

While the root vegetable fondant is absorbing the liquid, you can make a start on the greens.

Strip the leaves from the root vegetable stems
Roughly chop the cabbage and wash carefully.
Mix in the washed and shredded turnip, swede and beetroot greens.
When the fondant roots are about 10 minutes from being done, remove the bacon from its cooking water and allow to rest.
Bring the bacon cooking water to a rapid boil and add the greens to the water, being chopped they will cook to an al dente bite in about 10 minute - if you like your greens softer, add to the boiling bacon earlier.

When you strain off the greens its a great idea to reserve the cooking water, easily stored in the freezer - as it makes a fantastic base for another recipe I came up with - Irish beetroot soup - and is also great for boiling hot dogs and frankfurters.

Fondant garden root vegetables, savoy cabbage and bacon with a parsley sauce*

This meal is so simple, and apart from the meat, flour, milk and butter there is really very little that anyone with even a small garden needs to buy, reducing costs and food miles.
I write these recipes for my own amusement mostly, but also, in a way, the blog was started to thank the users at for all the advice I get there.

Another site I post to is politicalworld- in their recession rations section.

Every time I do a meal, I try to minimise on cost, basing recipes on what might be on offer at Lidl, Aldi, Dunnes and other stores.
A lot of recipes use food that people throw away that is perfectly good - i.e. chicken bones and veg offcuts for stock or the turnip leaves that are used in this recipe - and what might be wasted from this one like the bacon and greens cooking water that can be used in a future dish.

I hope this recipe might inspire readers to take Irish food and look at it in a different, more adventurous way and see how a few quid can be stretched.

Again, please take the time to leave a comment here on the blog - in particular if you use it or come up with a new twist.

Thanks for reading, and please take the time to comment.

Not just for bacon, also great on ham and fish like pollack, seabass or sole.
Very easy, and the root parsley is optional
50 gm Cuinneog butter
50 gm plain flour
1 sprig parsley, chopped
1 small root (about 4 cm) Atika, peeled and grated

Melt the butter in a small, heavy based pan
Sweat the grated root parsly
Stirfry the chopped leaf parsley for a few seconds
Add the flour to make up a paste
Add milk, whisk until thickend, keep on a low heat until serving.

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