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The Rutabaga (Re-imagined)

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Sometimes coming up with a supper idea that everyone will enjoy just seems completely impossible. I’ve pretty much accepted that I will not please everyone, but hope to make something at least 3 people will eat and enjoy and have it be healthful as well. Vegetables are a very tricky category for us as one child like his broccoli (or cauliflower or carrots) cooked, another likes his raw, another won’t touch it at all, and on and on and on. Tonight’s vegetable will likely cause trouble, but I keep hoping (and trying) that someday, someone’s taste buds will have matured enough to enjoy what comes out of my kitchen. We are going to have one of our chickens that the boys raised, in the crockpot, mashed potatoes and roasted carrots and rutabaga. Up until about 1 1/2 years ago I had never had rutabaga (because I was almost as fussy as my children) but I had the chance to enjoy it at a benefit art auction for the Vesterheim Museum and discovered it to be a much, too much, ignored but wonderful vegetable.

[frame align=”left”]big veggie[/frame]

The rutabaga, which is a fall root vegetable appears to be related to the turnip and the cabbage. This makes me wonder if the rutabaga would have those awful garden bugs (flea beetles) that cabbage have- A little bit of research shows that the rutabaga is like other root veggies, when picked small and tender, they are wonderful, but a frost brings out the sweetness and I have been told this is also true for carrots and brussel sprouts. They can be stored in root cellar like conditions and can be dipped in paraffin to prolong their freshness (which is how they are found in our local grocery store). I have found that when roasted, they also have a sweetness. Pairing rutabagas with carrots is beautiful and convenient because they have the same texture and thickness etc.

[frame align=”left”]rutabaga and carrots[/frame]

Cutting up a rutabaga is serious work. My knives are perpetually dull so this took extra effort. My hand was very tired when it was all said and done. Cutting a rutabaga is much like cutting a winter squash- difficult.

[frame align=”left”]rutabaga and carrots two[/frame]

I drizzled the matchstick size pieces with olive oil and sprinkled everything with Herbs de Provence (a combo of: rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory).

[frame align=”center”]herbs[/frame] [frame align=”left”]herbed rutabaga and carrots[/frame]

I roasted the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet at 425 for about 40 minutes. You could modify the time and temp, just use your best judgement when roasting vegetables. I watched them and would occasionally stir them. They are perfect when the vegetables on the edge of the pan start to burn! Just make sure the carrots and rutabaga aren’t crunchy and you should be fine!

We finished off the meal with mashed potatoes and chicken with gravy. I cooked a whole chicken with the skin on in my crockpot on low for many hours. We like gravy for the potatoes but I dislike the extra step of making it, so this time, I put two cans of cream of chicken soup in the crockpot with the chicken. Surprisingly, it turned into a wonderful gravy that was a bit less salty that the homemade kind I usually make. When the chicken was finished, I removed the skin before serving. The chicken literally fell off the bone and was really wonderful. And in case you’re wondering, one child ate the roasted veggies voluntarily, one flat out refused and two grudgingly ate about three bites! Some things never change!