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.