For many families a Thanksgiving table is not complete without a bowl of freshly prepared rutabagas. While their flavor is simple and earthy, their large size and thick skin can make them intimidating for the home cook to prepare. You can learn a lot about preparing root vegetables at Dallas cooking schools or by enrolling in classes in cooking but until you do here are some facts about one of Autumn's best root vegetables and some tips for preparing it at home.
The word rutabaga comes from the Swedish word Rotabagge or “root bag.” Rutabagas are a cross between a turnip and a cabbage and have been popular since the 1600’s where they were first documented growing wild in Sweden but quickly spread across Europe. By the 1800’s rutabagas were even being cultivated in America and they have been a part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner ever since.
Different countries have their own rutabaga traditions: In Scotland neeps and tatties (rutabagas and potatoes) are the most common companion to their infamous haggis. In Finland they are traditionally used in a Christmas casserole but are also roasted, broiled, baked and even used raw in salads. In the U.S rutabagas are most often boiled and mashed and seasoned with butter or cream.
How to Prepare a Rutabagas
Step 1: Assemble a medium to large rutabagas, a large chef knife, a cutting board and a vegetable peeler of paring knife.
Step 2: Rinse rutabaga under cool running water. Be sure to dry thoroughly so that it will not be slippery.
Step 3: Using the paring knife or vegetable peeler remove the outer layer of your rutabaga. Rutabagas are usually dipped in wax so that they will hold up better in storage, be sure to remove every bit of wax before cooking.
Step 4: Cut off the very bottom of the rutabaga so that you will have a flat surface for chopping.
Step 5: While resting on its flat bottom use your large chef’s knife to halve and then quarter your rutabagas.
Step 6: Continue chopping rutabagas until you have 1-2 inch cubes. Keeping them consistent in size will allow for even cooking.
Now that your rutabaga is chopped you can do with it whatever you like. Boiling and mashing makes a great side dish but you can also roast or bake it or even add it to soups and stews. If you would like to learn more about preparing different root vegetables Dallas cooking schools offer a variety of classes in cooking that will teach you all of the techniques you need to know.
This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Dallas. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Dallas offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in Dallas, Texas. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Dallas for more information.
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