Serendipity is unpronounceable in German.

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Serendipity occurred Saturday night in a German restaurant. Dipping a bite of weisswurst in mustard, I immediately recognized the same sharp, bitter taste I had battled working with turnips, two nights earlier. Cookbook after cookbook, recommended heavy cream or rich caramelization to balance the flavor. Our test kitchen feedback on Facebook suggested everything from beer-braising to brown sugar.

Wanting something lighter and stove top-friendly, and noting turnips’ starchy similarity to potatoes, we settled on hash browns.

Last fall I failed miserably at hash browns, undercooked centers, burned and blackened exteriors. Squeezing the water out of both potatoes and turnips was step one. Next came that bitter, sharp mustardy taste. Seasoning and sugar didn’t help, we needed fat. We tried cooking them in rendered pancetta fat to no avail. Parmesan helped but they were still off balance. An egg, lightly beaten, finally did the trick.

Back to serendipity. Not just happy coincidence, serendipity is an ah-ha moment that occurs when happenstance is observed with knowledge. The perfect pairing of sausage and mustard brought the realization that these hash browns, served alongside a thick slab of rich, sweet roast pork, would achieve dinner plate nirvana. I know what we’re serving for Sunday supper.

Turnip Hash Browns

*This dish doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes great! Two visitors to my Saturday demo at DC’s Eastern Market last weekend mentioned making turnip latkes for Hanukah. The sour cream and apple sauce they serve along side provided the same balance of sweetness and fat that a thick slice of pork would. Great suggestion, prettier presentation and I can’t wait to try it with some fresh homemade applesauce. Thanks!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs brandy
  • 2 medium potatoes, grated
  • 2-3 small turnips, grated
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Nutmeg
  • Cayenne
  • 2 tbs butter

Directions:

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté onions with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Deglaze pan with brandy, scraping up the brown bits and cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Meanwhile, wrap potatoes in a tea towel and squeeze the water out. Repeat with the turnip.
  • Mix potato, turnip, cheese and egg with the caramelized onions.
  • Season mixture with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Fry a small patty to check seasoning. Adjust to taste as needed.
  • In a clean skillet, Cook over medium heat in a thin layer. Flip when golden and cook until done.
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