Turnips have a distinctive, earthy flavor that can be overwhelming when eaten on their own. They are the perfect balance to creamy potatoes, though, adding a touch of mystery to one of the most common holiday foods around. You can prepare the mashed turnips and potatoes hours ahead of time and reheat in a pot set over low heat, or in a gratin dish or ovenproof skillet at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until bubbling hot. You can make this dish using all low-fat milk or a combination of milk and cream, depending on how rich you want the dish to be.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
1 large turnip (about 2 pounds), peeled and chopped
2½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 1½ cups whole milk, low-fat milk, heavy cream, or a combination
¼ cup minced fresh chives or parsley (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat. Add the turnip and potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender when tested with a small sharp knife. Drain well. Return the vegetables to the pot and let dry out for a minute or two over the warm burner.
2. Add the butter and about 1 cup of the milk and mash the vegetables using a hand-held masher or an immersion blender. It’s fine for the mixture to be slightly chunky. Stir in the chives (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the additional ½ cup milk or cream as needed for the desired consistency. Serve hot.
Omit the turnip and add 2 pounds peeled, chopped parsnips.
Omit the turnip and add 1 week, cut into 1-inch pieces, and 2 onions, peeled and chopped. Add the leek and onions after the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes to avoid overcooking.
Omit the turnip and add a 2-pound winter squash, peeled and chopped.
Add 6 peeled whole garlic cloves to the pot with the potatoes and turnips for a garlic-flavored dish.
Place the mashed potatoes in a gratin dish and sprinkle with 1 cup grated hard cheese (Parmesan, cheddar, Gruyere) or a soft goat cheese or blue cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.