This side dish was discovered while my friend Bethany and I were making a new pie recipe at Thanksgiving. It was a pear parsnip pie from The Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase. The pie was good. It was a more delicate cousin of a pumpkin pie. But Bethany and I both agreed that just the pears sautéed in butter and calvados and pureed with boiled parsnips was amazing. It was hard to carry on from there and add all the custard and sugar that made this delicious stuff into an okay pie. This side dish is way better than pie. After Thanksgiving, I made more of the pear parsnip whip as a side dish for Turkey leftovers. Then I made more as a side dish for pork chops and braised cabbage with fruit and fennel seed. It is very easy and the unique creamy, sweet flavour of the parsnip really shines. The parsnip is such a humble and underrated vegetable. I buy my pears unripe a few days before I want to use them and keep them ont he counter in a sealed brown bag with a ripe banana. The banana talks to the pears and they are usually perfectly ripe in about 3 days.
If you do not have Calvados, any brandy would be fine. I used an apple brandy from California called Germain-Robin which is well worth the ridiculous sum I spent on it. They can’t call it Calvados because of all of the rules that the French have about terroir and naming but I assure you that this apple brandy is better than the “real” Calvados I have bought in the past.
PEAR AN PARSNIP WHIP
- 5 cups peeled, sliced parsnips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large ripe Anjou or Bartlet pears, peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons Calvados
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the parsnips in a saucepan with enough water to covet them. Bring them to a boil and then cook uncovered over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the parsnips are very tender. Drain the parsnips and set aside.
- Meanwhile, saute the pears in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the calvados and continue cooking, stirring often for another 10 minutes or until the pears are very soft. Be careful not to brown them too much.
- Combine the parsnips, pears and any juices from the saute pan in a food processor and whip until very smooth. Season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper and serve.