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Home-grown harvest: Parsley root

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Home-grown harvest: Parsley root

Chefs can use both the root and leaves of this versatile yet lesser-known plant to make a variety of dishes, says chef-consultant Russell Brown

Parsley root has been a fixture on winter menus for a number of years, but is often considered to be an imported product. Although the bulk of it comes from France, it is also grown in the UK.

One grower in particular, Frederick Hiam in Suffolk, is not only selling parsley root to UK wholesalers but also exporting it. The company started growing parsley root around four years ago, when there was a shortage on the continent.

Parsley root is classed as a minor crop, so there is little technology involved and things like weed control are a challenge – however, its production is increasing year on year. Frederick Hiam is also looking at keeping the unwashed roots in cold storage to make the crop more economical.

Parsley root looks very similar to a parsnip but it is part of the parsley family – the species is p.crispum and it is also known as Hamburg parsley. Both the root and the greens are edible and the leaves look very similar to Italian or flat leaf parsley. The UK season runs from September to April, with the crop being ground-stored and lifted as demand requires. The root is much more commonly used in mainland Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe.

In terms of flavour, the root has a distinctive parsley flavour with elements of celery and carrot. Although it can be used like a parsnip, it should be considered a vegetable in its own right. It can be used in soups, purées and stews, but can also be roasted, fried or eaten raw. It has a similar, starchy texture to a parsnip but lacks the tougher inner core that bigger parsnips can have.

It produces silky, creamy purées and has an affinity with the same flavours as parsley leaf – white fish, beef, game and eggs all work well.

Nick Galer, chef-proprietor at the Miller of Mansfield in Goring, Berkshire, is a fan of the purée served with duck, while chef Allan Pickett, who is heading up the Swan restaurant at the Shakespeare Globe theatre in London, likes them cut crosswise and cooked as a classic fondant. And the chefs at the Clipstone restaurant in London, a new opening from the team behind Portland restaurant, are serving a parsley root and ricotta tortellini with salsify and buckwheat.

Buying and storage tips
Store parsley root in the fridge, loosely covered with a damp cloth
If the roots have the leaves on, remove and store them separately
The roots will keep for several weeks if refrigerated

Market report
Supplies of French and English parsley root are available, but there is a significant difference in price. The English roots sell at £1.50-£1.70 per kg and the French at £3.40-£3.60 per kg.
Charlie Hicks
totalproducelocal.co.uk

Roasted picanha with parsley root and apple slaw
Serves 4

Roasted picanha with parsley root and apple slaw
Roasted picanha with parsley root and apple slaw

For the beef
1 x 700g picanha
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper
1tbs rapeseed oil
Maldon sea salt

For the parsley root and apple slaw
1 red onion, finely sliced
25g mayonnaise
5g Dijon mustard
25g crème fraîche
100g parsley root, julienned
1⁄6 pointed cabbage, julienned
1 sharp apple, peeled and coarsely grated
1tsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Lemon juice to taste
Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

To serve

8 flatbreads or wraps
Pickled jalapeño chilli For the beef

Mix the paprika, garlic powder and a generous grind of black pepper with the oil and rub well into the flesh of the beef. Leave to marinate for 1 hour.

Season well with salt and seal in a hot pan. Allow the fat to render well. Leave fat-side down in the pan and transfer to a hot oven. Cook to the required degree, basting frequently. Remove and allow to rest.

For the slaw
Cover the sliced onion with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.

Mix the mayonnaise and mustard with the crème fraîche, stir in the vegetables and apple. Season to taste. Add the parsley just before serving

To serve
Cut the beef into thick slices, place on the flatbreads and top with the slaw. Finish with the pickled jalapeño chilli if desired

Warm ham hock, roasted parsley root and slow-cooked duck egg

Warm ham hock, roasted parsley root and slow-cooked duck egg
Warm ham hock, roasted parsley root and slow-cooked duck egg

Serves 8

8 duck eggs
500g parsley root, peeled and the thick ends cut into 1cm cubes, remainder roughly chopped
45g unsalted butter
Maldon sea salt
1tbs rapeseed oil
1 cooked ham hock, meat flaked from the bone and any fat and sinew removed
200ml of the ham cooking liquid
1 small bunch of watercress, tough stalks removed
2tbs cider vinaigrette
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the duck eggs in a water bath at 62.5°C and cook for 1.5 hours. They will hold in the water bath for a couple of hours.

Place the roughly chopped parsley root in a small pan and cover with water. Add half the butter and a little salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer until completely soft. Spoon out the parsley root into a blender and then reduce the cooking liquid by three-quarters. Blitz the parsley root with enough of the reduced cooking liquid to produce a smooth, soft purée. Season to taste. Transfer to a piping bag and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and add the cubed parsley root. Season with salt and cook until it starts to colour, turning frequently. Add the remaining butter and reduce the heat. Cook through with the foaming butter until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel, season and keep warm.

Warm the ham hock pieces in the cooking liquid. Allow the liquid to reduce to form a thin glaze. Adjust the seasoning.

To serve
For each serving, pipe a little purée onto one side of a shallow bowl. Crack an egg and place it on the purée. Scatter around the cubed parsley root and add the ham hock. Pipe dots of purée in any gaps. Dress the watercress with the vinaigrette and season, and place 4 or 5 sprigs in each bowl.

Meat supplied by www.walterroseandson.co.uk

Parsley root supplied by www.frederick-hiam.co.uk

Coming soon
Over the next few months I will be featuring spring onions and white asparagus in Home-grown harvest. Do let me know how you use these products on your menus and what your seasonal favourites are. Email recipes, dish suggestions and photographs to russell@creativeaboutcuisine.com

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