I’ve always suspected that when Scarlett O’Hara holds up a root vegetable in Gone with the Wind and proclaims defiantly, “I’ll never be hungry again,” what she’s cursing is not really a white turnip but an old, pithy, yellow rutabaga. Which is too bad since, when this member of the turnip family, neglected everywhere outside the South, is bought and prepared with care, no vegetable can be as flavorful or delicious. “Big yellows,” which, when young, have a thin, pale yellow skin and sweet, firm flesh, are best from about July through April. Buy them off season and, as with white turnips and parsnips, you risk tubers that are woody, strong tasting, and next to impossible to peel. In this purée, the potatoes add a starchy-smooth texture, while the apple serves to neutralize any bitterness of the rutabaga. For just the right texture, I don’t recommend using a food processor for this purée.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the rutabaga, potato, apple, chicken broth, thyme, nutmeg, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till the vegetables and fruit are very tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook a little longer or till the ingredients lose most of their liquid, stirring periodically to make sure they don’t scorch. Transfer the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, add the cream, and mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer till smooth and fluffy. Serve hot.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.