Oh, rutabaga, where have you been my whole (low-carb) life?
I have been a dedicated low-carber for over a decade. While I could go the rest of my life without eating another dessert or drinking another soft drink, my meat-and-potatoes farm-community up-bringing often leaves me missing starch-laden foods of my youth, such as fried potatoes and biscuits and gravy. In fact, when I decide to splurge, it is almost alway with one of these two foods. In over ten years of living low-carb, I had never found a suitable, low-carb replacement for crispy potatoes fried in bacon grease.
Enter the rutabaga: humble root vegetable, that also happens to be incredibly low in carbohydrate (under half the net carbohydrate content of a potato). While not a strictly low-carb food, it makes for a great option for the occasional potato fix.
Apparently, the rutabaga has fallen out of popular use, due to its reputation as famine food during World War II. How unfortunate. As it turns out, the rutabaga is basically just as easy to work with as the potato, and makes an equally good accompaniment as the potato when fried.
Here are the results of tonight's experiment with making fried rutabaga.
The rutabaga is at first a somewhat unusual-looking vegetable, but is actually easier to peel than a potato:
Rutabaga Peeled and Unpeeled
Once peeled, rutabaga is considerably more difficult to cut through than a potato; however, once I quartered the rutabaga, the mandolin made quick work of slicing:
Rutabaga Quartered and Mandolin-Sliced
I initially fried a small batch (1/2 rutabaga) of potato chip-thin slices, to get a feel for the texture and taste of fried rutabaga.
Frying a trial batch of rutabaga
Having discovered that rutabaga fries essentially the same as potato, we were pleasantly surprised further to discover the mild, natural sweetness of rutabaga that - especially when crispy-fried - pairs in a rather addictive manner with a little salt and pepper.
Finding the trial run successful, I set the mandolin to one setting thicker, sliced another whole rutabaga, and fried the whole batch in bacon grease, as before.
First full batch of fried rutabaga
This batch definitely took longer to cook than the potato chip-thin slices, but still barely took longer than the time required to broil pork chops.
The pork chops and fried rutabaga (garnished with a few bits of crumbled bacon), combined with some Brussels sprouts "slaw" (steamed Brussels sprouts, core removed, mashed/quick chopped, with butter, Parmesan cheese, and a few drops of lemon juice) made for a tasty and - and unexpectedly filling - meal.
Fried rutabaga with broiled pork chop and Brussells sprout slaw
(I actually was unable to finish the entire plate.)
Next up: rutabaga chips in the deep fryer, rutabaga soup (using my secret family potato soup recipe), and roast with rutabaga.