HANDS UP IF YOU LOVE RUTABAGAS!
Their farty smell?
Their weird, woody, deep-set skin?
Over-cooked, mashed, watery and simply septic-flavoured?
Undercooked, intensely radishy similar to skunk cabbage (not good)?
The drowsy feeling associated with colonial, heteronormative family holidays and sad, cold, yellow. mush that nobody ate still sitting on the stained table, staring at me in my food-coma, wafting its memories of a butt once loved but never travelled?
This is a queer ingredient if I ever saw one. Especially the elephant-heart sized version I have featured in the photo (it was gifted to me as a, "... please? will you do something with this... thing?")
This fucking behemoth weighs nearly 7 pounds and I need to find recipes that don't suck (no thanks 'creamy-liquid-smoke-whipped-root-bag_of...pfft'). I have been handed a challenge and I shall rise to it like a noxious cruciferous gas. The plan is to weigh this impossible vegetable before each recipe, slowly butchering dear Rudy chunk by chunk, and hopefully ending up with something that doesn't make us all feel very sad.
Everything is going to be delicious, is the thing. It's just intimidating because we don't know it very well, yet. And even if it tastes like fartypoopoo, that's ok because the results may be hilarious and that is maybe more fun. Anyway, let's get started. Here's Rudy Recipe # 1:
(that's a play on shwarma-wannabe)
this is another fermentation recipe...
...and this huge vegetable needs some prep work, so keep in mind the duration of the process may take place over several days.
(ahead of time)
bitcher - Butchering a gigantic Rutabaga is a bitch. It's heavy, dense, and rounded (sort-of) so it will bobble all over the cutting surface. The important thing is to make sure it is fully secure. I started with some straight edges already cut into the vegetable, but you may not. To secure a rutabaga, use a tea towel wrapped around its base so it won't go flying. Work your way into the vegetable slowly, with confident pressure, and with a nice, heavy knife to help do the weightlifting. Once you have a smooth flat slice, get rid of the towel and place your rutabaga with it's flat sliced side on the surface (as pictured in the second photo of the series above).
de-skin - sometimes the skin of rutabagas and similar vegetables like kohlrabi or turnips can have a very woody or thready texture that penetrates into the flesh. It's for this reason we remove the skin with a knife, not a peeler. Notice the different shades in the chunk in picture 4 above - we want to get rid of all lighter coloured flesh because it could be like chewing on a stick with floss running through it. Test your veg, though. If you can bite through it cleanly and it has a pleasant, crunchy texture then it may be fine.
cut rutabaga into pinky-sized chunks. You could try and find something creative to do with the skin but I thought the compost felt more in tune rutabagas today, so I handed over the torch.
Toss the prepared rutabaga chunks with fine sea salt. You can use any kind of salt you want, but avoid preservatives or iodine because they may interfere with fermentation. At this stage they should be way too salty to eat and that is what we want.
Boil the 2 pints of water and pour over the grated beet and hot chilli pepper. Steep like a tea and then allow to cool completely while the rutabaga chunks macerate in the salt. You could leave the whole, unmixed lot on the counter overnight if that suited you.
Next, pack 2 very clean pint jars with the salted root and top with the cooled beet tea. You could strain it, or not. It doesn't matter. (nothing matters. everything in life is weird)
Leave it covered with a cheese cloth on the counter until it ferments to the sourness you prefer. I left mine 10 days and it's mid-winter (like 0-8 celsius outside). You'll know it is fermenting because tiny bubbles will appear on the surface, eventually creating a layer of Kahm's yeast if you don't skim it. This is totally harmless (similar to the bloomy rind on a brie cheese).
Jury's still out on this one. I am waiting to hear back from the CSA members who desperately gave the thing to me in the first place - the pickle jar is sitting in the back of their fridge, blinking its eyes ever-so-sweetly at them...
Stay tuned for RUDY RECIPE # 2 when we knock a couple more ounces off this bad boy and shred it into pancakes.