Turnip and Hazelnut Gratin

Oh, the holidays.  The joy of families coming together and celebrating their love for one another.  The terrifying calorie consumption from excessive feasting that leaves you feeling shamed and bloated in equal proportions.  They go hand in hand, don’t they?  But hey, it’s the holidays. If you can’t indulge and feed your gluttony now, followed by passing out on the couch like a two-toed tree sloth, well then when CAN you do it?   Exactly.  

There’s that other thing too, and you will know exactly what I’m talking about here.  You slave over dinner, make 13 different side dishes, and without fail there are at least three guests who “just don’t like vegetables”. All that they’re interested in is mashed potatoes and gravy. I mean, C’MON!!  At least TRY the darn stuff, right? Well this is what I’ve learned:  People who don’t like vegetables are significantly more likely to try them if they’re covered in creaminess and include a bit of bacon.  It’s a fact.  I mean, nobody (that I know) has ever said, “We’re eating turnips for dinner tonight?  AWESOME!!”  But when you turn it into a gratin that’s laden with tasty fats….  

So here’s one more thing to add to your repertoire of embarrassingly guilt-inducing side dishes that you don’t feel too bad about making because surely if it’s being divided 12 ways then it can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT?!  Yes. And those people who abhor vegetables in any way shape or form are significantly more likely to try it (and enjoy it) then the Nips’n’Mash that they got last year.  

Turnip and Hazelnut Gratin
  • 3 lbs turnip (about 8 medium-large guys)
  • 5 strips of bacon
  • 2 cups of cream *
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried savoury
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste **
* I used half-and-half which is about 18% milk fat, simply because it kills me on the inside every time that I use cream in a recipe.  Whipping cream (35% milk fat) would be ideal, but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to do it.  

** DON’T BE SHY with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The bacon is salty and your chicken broth may be slightly salty as well, so it doesn’t hurt to taste first…but really, you need salt.  And pepper.  Lots.  


Peel the turnips and let them sit in a bowl of icy water as you go about your business.  This will slow some of the discoloration.  And also, they look so lovely and creamy white bobbing away in there.  I mean, LOOK AT THAT!  How can you hate turnips when you’ve seen them looking so precious?

Chop the bacon into 1/4 inch chunks.

In a non-stick pan please fry the bacon until it’s nicely browned.  As it cooks away you can get started on the turnips cutting, which takes a while.  When the bacon is cooked take it off the heat so it can cool slightly.

And on to the turnip cutting.  Quarter each turnip and slice the chunks thinly (no more than 1/8 inch) going across.

So I feel compelled to tell you:  this takes a while.  You think that it won’t, after all it’s only 8 turnips, but it does.  It takes a long while.  It’s boring.  Your hand starts to hurt. And then you’ll turn on me, decide that I’m full of B.S. anyway, and my recipes are stupid, and from now on you’re only going to check the site for the cocktails and beer reviews.  You’ll get to the point where you start asking yourself why you even wanted to make some stupid turnip dish in the first place, nobody likes turnips except for you, and maybe if you just stop now then you can boil them or something and does it really matter because you’ve already eaten half the bacon, and the hazelnuts weren’t THAT expensive……

I know.  It’s okay.  Just breathe through the turnip slicing, soon it will all be over with.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Usually you see the preheat warning at the start of a recipe, I know, but what’s the point in using up all that energy when you’ve got 20 minutes of prep work ahead of you?  Silly turnips. So now that that’s out of the way, let’s carry on.

I am aware that you can buy your hazelnuts already chopped, and I’m really not a purist, it’s just that the whole nuts were on sale…..so, if you have whole nuts, give them a pulse in the food processor until they’re roughly chopped.  Or put them in a bag and smash them with a rolling pin, but try not to get too overzealous when you’re doing it.  I know that the holidays are stressful, but smashing out hazelnut butter is not going to make Dear Uncle Fred any less of a jackass. 

Alright, so by now the bacon is cooled, the turnips are sliced, and you’re feeling better about things.  Maybe not enough that you trust me or want to make friends again, but enough that you’re willing to renew your enthusiasm about turnips and gratin.  And really, that’s all that I can ask.

Slide the bacon (with drippings, please) onto the turnips and give them a toss to coat.  You can season it now, or later, or really whenever you want.

In a medium bowl combine the cream, stock and spices.  This is killing me, it really is.  I’m usually a fairly healthy cook for our daily meals and we eat a lot of salad.  But chanting, “I like salad.  I eat salad.  Salad is good.” does not negate the fact that there are 2 cups of cream in here. And that I used cream again just yesterday to make some White Chocolate Pots de Creme with Candied Orange.  Ah, well.  It’s the holidays……  

Scoop the turnips into a 9×13 casserole dish (no need to grease it) and pour the creaminess over top. 

Mix together the bread crumbs with the hazelnuts and sprinkle this overtop.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

Turnip and Hazelnut Gratin is a great way to serve turnips on the side of your holiday turkey, but it would also be fantastic to go with a Sunday roast or prime rib….just saying…..

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

    You know it hurts me when you talk about Uncle Fred that way.

  • http://kopiaste.org Ivy

    Really tempting! You did a great job here!

  • http://noblepig.com/ noble pig

    I love turnips so I say it’s a winner, what an awesome idea!

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Ivy & Noble Pig – thank you!!! Turnips get such a bad rap, which is too bad because they can be so delicious!!!

  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com Kristie

    I have nothing to say about turnips. At least nothing flattering. Except for this: Yes, they are cute. Because I know they’re in a sink in Canada, and not threatening my immediate person.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Kristie – I’m sure that there is a B movie from the 70s about the attack of killer turnips…I’ll try to find it for you before Christmas

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    This is such an intriguing combination: never had turnips with hazelnut before. I’m very curious now. . .

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    js, turnips pair well with hazelnuts because they enjoy the rich nuttiness – at least in my humble opinion. They have a tendency to be a bit bland on their own but they also have that bit of bite, so they like a bit of creaminess and texture.

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