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How Long to Cook Root Vegies?


mr drinkie
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Now that it is root vegetable season, I was wondering if someone had a good resource for root vegetable cooking times. I made a curry the other day with New Zealand Blue Pumpkin and red potatoes. The pumpkin softened up pretty quickly but the potatoes were too firm, and I hate overcooking pumpkin and squash so I accepted the al dente potatoes. (My wife picked them out though.)

Does anyone have a general 'rule of thumb' guide on which root vegies should be cooked longer? I have a parsnip, some beats, and pumpkin waiting to be cooked, but I have been guessing for too long.

I like to say things and eat stuff.

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1. Doneness is a function of thickness. Cut them roughly cube to equal size for equal cooking times.

2. Whether you simmer (my choice) or boil, do it at a consistent temp -- like mark which burner at which number -- so you have a good baseline.

3. I'd then do a trial run with some times, starting with a simmer in water for 15 minutes, then going for a taste every 5 minutes. They're done when they're no longer hard, but definitely not mushy. And times would definitely vary for different types of potatoes and squashes.

Once you have times, just keep note and plop them in the broth like:

A at T - 40

B at T - 35

C at T - 30

D at T - 15

E at T - 10

And you'll have perfect texture. You definitely don't want to go for an "all in the pot for 45 mins" strategy unless you're trying to beat the British at their mushy game.

For your curry, I'd use russets, definitely not reds. They're waxy and not really starchy enough for curries. You want curry potatoes to break down a bit so the starch can thicken up the curry. You can boil waxies for an hour and they'd still not give you the same result.

When I make Thai style curries, when the potatoes are done, the curry is done. They overcook and melt away into nothingness very quickly. If you're using meat, beef and pork go in the pot first, to brown and then for a long dip till nice and tender. As for seafood, five minutes, tops. They'll keep (over)cooking on the plate.

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Yeah, maybe I will do an experiment with equal sized cubes: one roasting and one boiling. It might be kind of fun.

I'll also try that glazing method. I love Frank Stitt's restaurants, and I've been to them many, many times.

I like to say things and eat stuff.

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On the other hand once you know how long they take to cook, you can cut the pieces into different sizes (bigger pieces for those vegetables that cook faster and smaller for those that take more time). That way you can add all at the same time and have them reach their best eating state at the same time.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Good point about the sizes.

Just FYI, I was too tempted at the Farmers' Market today and bought a few different squashes (all about the size of an acorn squash). I roasted them up and they took way too long and all of them obviously cooked at different speeds. I was a pain, but at least one of the varieties turned out very tasty.

I like to say things and eat stuff.

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I cheat big time with winter or root vegetables.

I combine several types with onions, garlic and etc., and roast them in a big roaster, not a shallow sheet pan because I want the roasted but not crusted.

(That's a different story.)

Tossed with olive oil (no need to use EVOO, plain is fine or any other vegetable oil) salt, pepper, add some thyme or a very little rosemary if you like it, or any other herb or spice of your choice. This is extremely versatile.

If using a lot of parsnips or sweet potatoes (the white ones) add some grated nutmeg.

This combo is slow roasted at 275° F. for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Less if your oven is hotter. Stir a couple of times during the roasting period.

I bag them (after cooling) in sizes adequate for addition to stews, or other dishes, curry, for instance. Vacuum seal and freeze the bags.

Thawed in the fridge for 24 hours, these can be added to just about any dish and the flavors will meld with only enough cooking to bring everything to a serving temp.

An odd thing happens with these vegetables, although they contain no meat of any kind, when roasted this way they develop a "meaty" flavor. Perhaps it is the combination of vegetables or the way they are cooked, but many people have asked me, when trying the vegetables served as a side dish, what meat did I include. They are always surprised when I tell them, none.

The combo pictured includes carrots, parsnips, white sweet potatoes, red bliss potatoes, celeriac, celery, onions. red bell peppers and roasted garlic. (I usually use raw garlic but had a lot of oil-roasted garlic so used it.)

The roasting pan is 12 x 16 inches and 3 1/2 inches deep.

root vegetable to roast.png

root vegetables roasted.png

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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@andiesenji

That is a brilliant way to deal with various winter veg! I've roasted onion, garlic and whatever veg I have, but I love the idea of mixing up a giant vat and freezing it for later.

I'll be doing this very soon after a fruitful farmers market visit.

Do you peel your carrots? I usually do, but was wondering if everyone did.

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I just scrub carrots but I do peel the parsnips and other roots.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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