Earthy, creamy mash of winter veggies riddled with tiny little bites of sharp cheddar. Do you call them rutabagas, turnips or neeps?
I grew up in a family where deliciously fantastic food was standard fare. Mom made the ordinary extraordinary. From chilaquiles and cheese enchiladas, to curried shrimp in patty shells, to spicy meat sauce and spaghetti to down home family favorites like fried chicken and apple pie. But the real standouts, the dinners my sisters and I still lovingly crave, are those steeped in British tradition.
Mom and my very special Auntie Alice (I miss you both so much it hurts), made Sunday roast dinners second to none. And they both made everything look so easy peasy. Salt and peppery standing rib roast, Yorkshire puddings swathed in dark, rich gravy, crispy edged, creamy centred golden roast potatoes that tasted like heaven and of course mashed turnips with a dob of butter melting on top. Oh mama!!
Long after those soul warming dinners of my childhood, I have come to learn that what we always called turnips are really rutabagas. But, they'll always be turnips to me. Or will they?
When I got married I found out my in-law family also called rutabagas turnips. But they went a step further with the Scottish nick name, neeps. And, my oh my, how the Stowells love their neeps.
Call them what you will, whether they be rutabagas, turnips or neeps, they have become an indispensable ingredient in my kitchen. 'Turnips' make my soup stocks richer, my gratins tastier and my Christmas dinners the stuff of memories.
So when I stumbled upon Rutabaga Cheddar Mash on Donna Lynn Ketchum's food blog, I knew I had no option but to pull out the rutabagas turnips neeps and make this tasty recipe my own.
Adding a bit of diced potato to the cubed turnips while they're simmering, brings out a hidden creaminess to the mash. Dark edged, slightly caramelized, sweet onions, tiny chunks of sharp cheddar, a knob of butter and a good splash of cream or milk make these neeps irresistible. Naughty Neeps!!
NAUGHTY NEEPS- About 6 servings.
1 small Vidalia, Walla Walla, Maui or other sweet onion, peeled, quartered and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 medium-large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium potato, peeled, cut into 6-8 pieces
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup cream or milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onions, sprinkle with sugar, stir, and saute until the edges of the onions start to brown nicely. Turn heat down and let onions cook 5-8 minutes 'til they get all golden with yummy dark bits like the onions at the fairgrounds. But watch them, turning the heat down if necessary, so they don't get too brown. Set aside.
Put turnip cubes in a pot with about 1 teaspoon sea, Kosher or other salt. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat so gently boiling. After 20 minutes add cubed potato and simmer another 15-20 minutes until both veggies are tender. Drain.
Mash in pot with 2 tablespoons butter, milk or cream, fried onions and salt and pepper to taste. Mash, mash. Gently stir in cheddar cubes and scoop mixture into serving bowl, so that the cheddar doesn't completely melt into the veggies but stays in little blobs of melty yumminess. Serve up hot. Blimey!