As I made these, I realized that this idea I had to make Thanksgiving side dishes has worked out very well for Nico and I. I mentioned before that we are trying to lose weight by eating smaller portions and being more thoughtful about what we eat, before we eat it. By having a Thanksgiving side dish or two per week, I feel like we've been able to indulge in holiday gluttony without it being a calorie bomb hurled at us in one meal. And I've been able to enjoy the dishes more since they've been the highlight of my meal instead of one component in many.
And I was very glad to single out this dish. The earthiness of turnip is one I love. As a kid, I turned my nose up at mashed turnips. As an adult, I've come to love the bitterness of the turnips brightened by the creaminess of the butter and milk, and highlighted by a sprinkle of salt. The contrast of the crispy shallots are a treat. There is a scene in the movie Ratatouille where the main character talks about closing your eyes when you eat certain flavors together. How they come together like a symphony of music. This is exactly how I feel about this dish.
The original recipe serves 6 people, but I halved it for our family. I still think I could have served 6 people, but we had small portions. But I'm perfectly ok with having leftovers.
Mashed Turnips with Crispy Shallot
recipe adapted of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style
1.5 cups vegetable oil
5-6 shallots, peeled and sliced into rings
2 large yellow turnips, about 4 pounds total
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons salted butter
.5 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low, add the shallots and cook until they are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. (In a pinch, when I've forgotten this step, I've done this in 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Watch them carefully, moving them constantly. When they look like they are just about done, get them out of the oil because they will burn in only a few seconds.) Stir the shallots occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from the oil to a paper towel lined plate and allow them to cool.
Peel the waxy skin from the turnips and cut them into 1 inch chunks. Place in a sauce pan and cover them with water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain.
Add the turnips to a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter, salt and pepper. With the motor running, add the milk in a steady stream and puree until the turnips are smooth. Transfer to a bowl and top with crispy shallots. Serve immediately.