Puffed Rutabaga Gratin
Alright, so I didn’t think that I was going to do more Thanksgiving side dish posts but this one was begging me to put it up. I said no, and told it that it just wasn’t meant to be. It responded with a, “but I’m so SIMPLE, and CROWD PLEASING, and oh, you know you loved me….” And sadly, that’s true. I’m a sucker for a wheedling side dish, so I agreed. Grudgingly, but even so….I can only justify doing yet another Thanksgiving side dish by virtue of the fact that my Yankee pals have yet to eat their fowl fill, so here’s one last stab at giving y’all more ideas for your long table.
Now before I tell you about why you should make this (and why you’ll love it’s airy and delicious texture which is not too sweet and just pleasingly subtle…just saying…) I need to address the fact that it’s made from rutabaga. I know, I know. Nobody likes rutabaga. I feel the same, most of the time. Food blogs the interweb over are doing delicious looking posts about caramelized chicken-apple sausage stuffed Lakota squash, or brioche turkey stuffing with Pacific oysters and pancetta, and here I am posting about RUTABAGA – the ugly cousin or the root vegetable world. First I go on and on about turnips, and now this…but bear with me, please.
There’s something that you should know about me: I’m that person who buys an off-brand shampoo on a whim, hates it and occasionally chokes when she smells the aroma, but then uses it periodically every two weeks or so because she doesn’t want it ‘to feel left out’. Yeah. I’m not kidding. I know that this likely speaks strongly about a very lonely and unpopular childhood, but let’s leave my psychological issues alone for a minute and focus on the issue at hand: rutabaga. I know they’re not down with the cool kids. I know that nobody is going to like eating them, and I also know that there is a pull of about “-2” when you read a menu and see that your Ivory Coast cocoa braised short ribs come with a side of rutabaga puree. That’s just the way it is.
But hey, I love root vegetables! You love root vegetables (right? Please?), so why does poor rutabaga get the short straw when uggos like celery root can still take center stage? Is that fair? Well, IS IT?!! Oh my god, grade nine is coming back to me in waves. The point is that we disregard rutabaga because it’s po’ man’s food, often used in sow slop, and not nearly ‘interesting’ enough to put on our table with the daily bread….but give it a chance.
Rutabaga has a gentle flavor that won’t beat you over the head. It’s not proud, and it doesn’t mind getting sold at $0.63/pound. And, more importantly, when you go into your local and your see that gorgeous rutabagas are being vended as ‘waxed turnips’ (the NERVE! Seriously!) and they just sit there placidly, waiting their turn, and knowing that even if nobody wants them that’s okay because they know who they are and they’re alright with that…tell me that you don’t get a bit misty, looking at poor solitary Mr. Rutabaga, sitting there proud but alone….I do. Such is life.
So…..now that you know way more about me than I’m comfortable with, my nervous anxiety is going to make me RAPIDLY START TALKING ABOUT THE RECIPE UNTIL YOU FORGET THIS EVER HAPPENED.
Now where were we again….
Puffed Rutabaga Gratin
- 1 large rutabaga (~1 lb)
- 2 tbsp salted buter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel the rutabaga (particularly if it has been waxed, which is a cryin’ shame in my uneducated opinion) and cut it into 3/4 – 1 inch pieces. Boil them for 35-40 minutes, or until they’re so fork-tender that skewering them is actually a slight disembowelment.
Add in the brown sugar and nutmeg to the rutabaga mash….and continue to mash until it’s smooth.
Dollop in the baking powder and flour, stirring or mashing (whichever is easier at this point) until combined.
Crack both eggs and let them fall into the rutabaga batter, stirring well after each addition. At this point you may want to check it for salt/pepper, or you may not. Hey, I won’t tell you how to run your life.
Spread the mixture into a buttered casserole dish.
Now, about the butter. I don’t know for sure that we need to have a buttered casserole dish, but I do know that if you do the rutabaga mixture won’t stick AND it tastes delicious. So there you go. Maybe you can just dollop it all in, greased or not greased, but I make no guarantees. For a buttered dish I make guarantees.
Mix together the last 1 tbsp of butter with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle this on top of the rutabaga mixture.
Bake in a 350F oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are lightly golden and toasted.
And now tell me that’s not pretty, rutabaga or otherwise. Seriously, everybody loves a gratin and this is no exception. My peeps pummeled the gratin dish and ate SECONDS before asking, “hey, so what was in the pyrex?” No sh*t. I don’t know why rutabaga gets such a bad name because people like it so much when they try it.
And did I already mention that this dish is totally light and almost mousse-like? Or about as mouse-like as rutabaga can be? Because it is. And on a holiday like Thanksgiving where everything is heavier than the devil, isn’t that a good thing? Yes, I agree – it is. I almost called this “Rutabaga Puff” except that I have such disappointed expectations about what puffed things will be that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So there, Puffed Rutabaga Gratin it is.
Rutabaga gets a bad rap and we should all be more inclusive on our Thanksgiving table. And anything that can be both a gratin AND a puff is good in my books, and people will eat it and ask for leftovers to bring home at the end of the day. True story, because they did.