The menu has been more or less finalised and hopefully a lot can be done in advance which I think is the key to any sort of entertaining and means that I can spend most of the actual day drinking Bucks Fizz (Mum, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding. I promise to remain upright at least until Doctor Who.)
As well as roast potatoes, the best ever braised red cabbage, crushed Swede, the ubiquitous sprouts (of which more in a later post) and, of course, peas, I will be serving some scrumptious crunchy coated parsnips. I’ve tested this recipe twice now (D has been forced to eat variations on a theme of Sunday dinner two days in a row – how he suffers for my art) and think I’ve cracked it timing wise. In terms of prep, both the potatoes and the parsnips will be parboiled well in advance, probably on Christmas Eve, and allowed to cool completely. Not only does this seem to give the best, crispiest roasted roots, but it also is one more annoying job out of the way.
I’ve given the rough amounts for 4 people here, but it is easily doubled or halved depending on the size of your family and, indeed, how much they like parsnips.
6 parsnips – look for short fat ones as they tend to be easier to cut
2 tbsp couscous*
20g fresh grated Parmesan
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Serves 4, 6 pro points per serving
* The original recipe that this is based on called for polenta which I wasn’t able to find in its correct form in our local Tesco. I substituted couscous, a store cupboard staple in our house, as an experiment and it worked well. It is probably a coarser crumb than polenta but it still gave a lovely, crispy coating to the parsnips. By all means use polenta if you can get hold of it.
Cut the parsnips into rough quarters length ways. Your pieces all need to be of similar size, so if you have a particularly rotund specimen you may need to cut it into eighths. These look about right:
|Photo credit: Waitrose.com|
Put the parsnips into a pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Once there, boil them briskly for a minute before draining. Use kitchen towel to blot off any excess water.
While your veg cook, put the couscous, Parmesan, cumin and several good scrunches of black pepper in a suitable receptacle – I used a shallow.
Now transfer your drained parsnips into the couscous mix and toss well to coat. You should do this while they are still warm. You can do this bit well in advance – the vegetables will roast well from cold.
When it comes to cooking them, preheat the oven to about 200-220 degrees. Heat a the vegetable oil in a roasting tray for about 15 minutes. Tip the parsnips into the hot oil and roast in the oven, turning once or twice for 25 minutes until golden and crispy. Serve alongside your bird with lashings of gravy.