Friday, August 2, 2013

Surprise Package

It was only once my family had happily devoured this delicious dinner that I confessed to it containing parsnip! I am not sure why this handsome winter vegetable is the case of such prejudices?

Perhaps it’s just a case of a limed appeal in an unadorned state. Granted a pasty pale parsnip does not have the crunchy vibrancy of a carrot or the comforting starchy charm of potatoes, but it does have a unique nutty sweetness that endears it to rich wholesome fare.

 At their peak in the depths of winter, parsnips mature as their starches convert to sugar giving it the characteristic butter toffee like flavour. With the savoury addition of fennel, leek, garlic, rich pork mince and a golden blanket of pastry I felt quite confident that I was showcasing parsnip potential.

A glug or two of olive oil
700 g pork mince
1 leek
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 parsnip
1 large potato
1 big fat granny smith apple
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
A good pinch of salt
1 cup chicken stock
1 block of puff pastry
One egg (to be used as a pastry wash)

1. Fry the mince in batches to give lovely brown nubbly effect, whilst that’s all happening get on with peeling and chopping the vegies into small chunks. Set to one side prepped veg and mince.

2. In a drop of olive oil, soften the sliced leek and garlic, add in the chopped veg and let them begin to sizzle. Add fennel, sage and salt and pepper, and then return the browned mince to the pan. Pour in the chicken stock and allow it to boil briskly, reduce to a simmer and let it bubble away until the liquid is reduced by 75% and the vegetables are cooked – about 10 mins.

3. Allow the meat mixture to cool slightly while you roll the pastry and preheat the oven to 190c (fan forced)

4. On a well floured surface roll the pastry into a large rectangle; aim to make the pastry the same thickness as a gold coin.

5. With a light touch lift the pastry onto a baking paper lined tray, dab the perimeter generously with egg wash then place the cooled meat mixture along the long edge of the pastry.

6. Fold the remaining pastry over the mince, then squeeze and tuck the edges together to seal. Lightly brush with remaining egg wash and then make feint slits along the top to allow steam to escape as it cooks. Sprinkle with extra fennel and black pepper.

7. Cook for 30 mins or until gloriously puffed and irresistibly golden.

8. Serve it up with a knowing smile and only confess to it containing parsnip once the meal is in full swing!
With thanks to my helper
Who could resist?

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