Author: Luisa Perkins
•5:24 PM
A-scavenging we'll go, today with the help of one of the greats of blogdom: Radioactive Jam. I really can't say enough good about this certified Blog Diety. Always engaging, clever, and thought-provoking, RaJ is kind enough to share the inner workings of his eclectic and vigorous mind with the rest of us.

Not only does RaJ post consistently terrific content, but he also goes out of his very busy way to encourage the more inexperienced among us in the most gracious and self-effacing manner. He's a National Treasure. Maybe I'll create the National Treasure Blog Award and give it to him to add to his already full-to-bursting trophy case.

RaJ asked me to post about 'a rutabaga.' How timely! It's the season of the year in my hemisphere for hearty, filling root vegetables like this one that Hope is embracing in the photo above. Rutabagas, swedes, yellow turnips, neeps: they're all the same thing.

Long maligned as 'famine food,' rutabagas are only now coming back into vogue with the heritage/heirloom vegetable renaissance. But thrifty and omnivorous yankee that she was, Julia Child knew of their value years and years ago. Here's my favorite way to cook and serve rutabagas, straight out of my very favorite cookbook in all the world, The Way to Cook. I took this dish once to a church supper, and it got rave reviews.

Julia Child's Gratin of Rutabaga

1-1/2 pounds rutabaga, cut into 3/4-inch dice (4 to 5 cups)
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 large clove of garlic, minced

3 TB butter
3 TB flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
3 TB bread crumbs
3 TB grated Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 6-cup baking dish generously and set it aside. Place the rutabaga in a steaming basket with the ginger and garlic. Cover and steam over 1 inch of boiling water for about 10 minutes, until almost tender. Remove the steamer. Boil down the steaming liquid to 1/4 cup; reserve.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Stir together for 2 minutes; the butter and flour should foam together without coloring more than a buttery yellow. Remove from heat. Pour in all but 1/2 cup of the milk at once, whisking vigorously to blend thoroughly. Then stir slowly, reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce comes to a simmer; simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring and thinnning with dribbles of the remaining milk. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon nicely. Whisk in the salt and pepper, tasting carefully as you go.

Add the reduced steaming liquid to the sauce and stir well. Fold the rutabaga into the sauce and put into the buttered baking dish. Spread on the crumbs and the cheese. Bake for 90 minutes. The top should be nicely and lightly browned and the sauce almost completely absorbed.

Now my mouth is watering; I'm off to eat some turkey leftovers.

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8 comments:

On 23/11/07 , Radioactive Jam said...

I'm a little bit scared by how easily and thoroughly you handled this suggestion.

Mainly I'm impressed, but also a little scared. I wonder if there are any limits to your mad powerz.

Kind of like wondering if Charlie (from "Firestarter") could crack the planet if she really let herself go. Well except there was an element of BAD in Charlie's power (Back off!) and your powerz are Good and Cool. But still.

I'm just saying. ;-)

 
On 23/11/07 , dawn said...

That looks like a pretty good recipe. I have tried to grow rutabagas, but haven't had any luck so far. I think I will try this recipe although, I am thinking my family will not like it.

I just noticed the monkey on RaJ's avatar. Shows how much I pay attention, probably because the shoes remind me of clown's so I have only given the avatar a fleeting look.

 
On 23/11/07 , Kimberly said...

I agree...the apparent ease with which you answered a question that would have left me completely flummoxed is just a wee bit disturbing.

 
On 24/11/07 , painted maypole said...

i was doing fine until you mentioned turkey leftovers. now I am hungry!

 
On 24/11/07 , Anne Bradshaw said...

Turnips and swedes have never been my favorite vegetable, but maybe that will change. This recipe sounds delish. Maybe I'll get brave and try it.

By the way, I jut blogged about a GREAT stress reliever--and healing technique for a ton of things. All free, simple, and safe. Plus a must-view video. Take a break from rutabagas for a moment and go peek :-)

 
On 24/11/07 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Sorry, the only rutabagas I like are the ones in Carl Sandburg poems.

 
On 25/11/07 , Sirdar said...

I think Dawn will be proven correct in that her family will probably not appreciate this recipe. I have had turnips before and didn't die after eating them. Dawn was making sweet potatoes, and I liked them...so maybe I will like rutabagas too...

 
On 25/11/07 , deb said...

i once bought a piece of tupperware at a yard sale because someone, in permanent marker, had written "rutabagas" on the lid in spidery script.