Lately I have been wondering if parsnips are the Brussel Sprouts of the root vegetable family. I love parsnips, but if you don't prepare them properly they can be awful. There are lots of honey roasted and crispy Moroccan recipes, but I settled on Nigel Slater's Parsnip Croquettes as my inspiration. I went with all parsnip, but he uses half parsnip and half potato. I wanted to, as they say on Masterchef, make parsnip the 'star' of the dish!!!
Parsnips can have a woody core. Experience has taught me to cut the woody part out, so only the sweet and soft outside layer remains. I made half the recipe, but luckily I had extra parsnips: by the time I topped, tailed and cored them I had lost 1/3 of the amount needed. Err on the generous side. The lucky Labradors are having the peel and offcuts in their dinner tonight.
This recipe could easily be part of an Indian meal, I think I would make them teeny tiny and bite-size.
You can't whip these up and serve immediately, they need to chill for an hour, and then a further 20-30 minutes. I like to think of them as food that helps me be prepared!!!
Parsnip Croquettes makes 8 large
- 900g parsnips, or a combination of parsnips and potatoes
- 50g butter
- 1 tspn ground cumin
- 2 egg yolks (from 2 separated eggs)
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra plain flour
- 2 egg whites
- panko breadcrumbs (that's the Japanese kind, but any kind will do)
- vegetable oil for shallow frying
Top and tail the parsnips, peel them and check to see if the centre core is woody. If it isn't, go right ahead and cut the parsnips into chunks.
If the core is woody, cut each parsnip into quarters lengthwise, and then cut the core out. Then cut the remaining flesh into chunks.
Place the parsnips in a pan of cold water, almost covering them, and bring to the boil. Cover, turn the heat down and simmer till tender. Mine took only 10 minutes.
Drain well, add the butter and cumin and turn the heat up to medium and once it sizzles, cook for 2-3 minutes. The spice needs to cook and you will smell when it is fragrant and ready. Season with salt and pepper and mash enthusiastically.
Add the egg yolks (save the whites for the crumbing later on) and flour and combine with a fork. Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour. Form the cold parsnip into croquette shapes, or any shape you fancy really. I used a 1/3 cup measure and made 4. And I appear not to have taken photos of this. I have no idea why.
I set up a crumbing system: the croquettes, plain flour, whisked egg white and then panko. Roll the croquette in plain flour, then make sure it is covered with the whisked egg white and then dredge with panko. Press it on gently but firmly. Pop back in the fridge for another 20-30 minutes. This step is not strictly necessary, but gives by far the best result.
Heat the vegetable oil in a fry pan over a medium heat. The oil should be about half the depth of the croquettes. To check if it is the correct heat, drop a cube of bread or some breadcrumbs into the oil: if it goes a nice golden brown and sizzles, it is ready. Anything else and it is too hot, or not hot enough.
Shallow fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. They should go a nice deep golden brown. They will be easy to turn when they are ready. If, like me, you made the oil too shallow, briefly fry each 'edge' by turning the croquette on its side!! Set aside to drain for a minute or so, and then serve straight away with some greens, a raita or maybe a tomato chutney.