Parsnips played a much more considerable part in sixteenth – and seventeenth-century cooking than they do in modern recipes because of their sweet taste. This is often disliked in our own times but in the past there was no objection to mixing sweet and savoury in the same dish. They were also liked when potatoes were hardly used because they roast and mash easily and make a fine smooth puree.
This eighteenth-century recipe is excellent with hot home-cooked ham.
Peel and boil the parsnips until tender, then mash them until quite free from lumps. Beat into them half the butter, and the cream, also a good seasoning of salt, pepper and dry mustard. Butter a fireproof dish, put in half the mashed parsnips and sprinkle with grated cheese. Add the remaining parsnips and cheese, cover with fine breadcrumbs, put small pieces of butter on the top, and bake until brown in a fairly hot oven, 400° F., gas mark 6.
©1975 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton