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As winter nears, it’s time to file away recipes for tomatoes and asparagus and make room in the refrigerator and pantry for the season’s root vegetables. While their appearance can be dark and earthy, enthusiasts say these under-appreciated winter vegetables can make up a number of flavorful side dishes, entrees and even desserts. Kojo talks about the variety of root vegetables you'll find at market and how you can use them in your kitchen.
Make this hash for a weekend brunch or as an easy weeknight supper. I like to serve it with a tossed green salad or a steamed vegetable and a crusty loaf of bread. Pass Tabasco or other hot sauce at the table; the vinegary, smoky flavor of hot sauce complements the rutabagas, bacon, and chiles. Poach eggs to place on top of this hearty hash. The runny soft-cooked eggs are a perfect accompaniment.
yield: serves 4 to 6
6 slices bacon, about 5 oz/140 g, cut into ¾-in/2-cm pieces
2 lb/910 g rutabagas, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into ½-in/12-mm dice
1 large yellow onion, cut into ½-in/12-mm dice
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into slices ¼ in/6 mm thick
1 Anaheim chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-in/12-mm dice
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
½ tsp kosher or fine sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
Tabasco or other hot-pepper sauce for serving
In a 12-in/30.5-cm frying pan, preferably cast iron, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
Pour off all but ¼ cup/60 ml of the fat from the pan. Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the rutabagas and onion, and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring once, for 7 minutes to steam the rutabagas. Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are browned at the edges, about 1 minute longer.
Add the celery and both chiles, stir briefly, and then cover and cook for 3 minutes longer. Uncover the pan and add the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rutabagas are fork-tender and the celery is crisp but not raw tasting. Fold in the cilantro and bacon. Serve immediately, garnished with additional cilantro. Pass the hot-pepper sauce at the table.
Put a pile of crisp, golden, salty, hot yuca fries in front of me and they will disappear in a heartbeat. The nutty, sweet flavor of the flaky interior is wonderful—and almost more interesting than a potato fry. Although the dipping sauce is nontraditional, the combination is completely appealing. I like to whirl the sauce in the blender until it turns pale green, with just specks of cilantro showing. To save time, you can whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
yield: serves 4
1½ lb/680 g yuca
8 cups/2 L water
Kosher or fine sea salt
3 small dried red chiles such as chile de árbol
About 5 cups/1.2 L peanut, grape seed, or vegetable oil for deep-frying
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
½ cup/120 ml sour cream
½ cup/30 g minced fresh cilantro
2 tsp fresh lime juice
¼ tsp kosher or fine sea salt
To make the dipping sauce, in a blender, combine the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and process until puréed. The sauce should turn soft green with dark flecks of cilantro. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The sauce can be made 1 day in advance.)
Use a heavy chef’s knife to trim off the ends and cut each yuca crosswise into pieces 3 in/7.5 cm long. Stand each piece upright and use a paring knife to cut down between the outer bark and the flesh, removing all of the waxy brown skin and the pinkish layer underneath. Halve the yuca lengthwise. Remove the fibrous central core.
In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tbsp salt and the chiles, then add the yuca. Simmer, uncovered, until tender when pierced with a wooden skewer, about 20 minutes. (Check often for tenderness. The yuca should be cooked through without getting mushy. In my experience, the pieces of yuca cook unevenly, with some turning tender before others. Remove the tender ones with a slotted spoon and drain, continuing to cook the other pieces until done.) Drain the yuca and transfer it to a bowl of ice water. When the yuca is cool, lift it out of the ice water and blot dry with paper towels. Cut the yuca into thick fries about ¾ in/2 cm wide.
Line two baking sheets with a double thickness of paper towels. Set a slotted spoon or wire-mesh skimmer alongside the baking sheets. Pour the oil to a depth of 3 in/7.5 cm into a deep, heavy pot, a wok, or an electric deep fryer and heat to 360°F/180°C on a deep-frying thermometer. Fry the yuca in small batches. Add a handful of fries to the hot oil and fry, stirring once or twice, until they are golden brown, 2½ to 3 minutes. (The timing will vary slightly, so look for color first and then sample a fry, testing for a crisp exterior and flaky interior.) Using the slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the chips to a prepared baking sheet to remove excess oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Continue frying in small batches until all of the pieces are fried. Make sure the oil is at 360°F/180°C before you add a new batch.
Transfer to a basket or serving bowl and serve hot with the dipping sauce.