When I think of food and the holidays, my mom's family floods my brain with memories. Her family consisted of seven aunts (accompanied by their husbands), one uncle + one, and her mom (Irish) and dad. They claimed Sicily and Naples as their hometowns, so of course food played a very important role in their lives.
Since they came to the US in the early twentieth century, their biggest goal was to become "American". And though no one has told me, I am convinced that the sole reason for "turnips" being part of our Thanksgiving feast is because they were an unknown quantity, therefore making them "American"...and the fact that they probably were cheap.
I sat around the kitchen and watched my great aunts, or as my Uncle Steve called them, "The Mafia Auxiliary," stuff shells, fry cauliflower, mash potatoes as they got wild and crazy on a half glass of red jug wine diluted by an equal amount of fizzy water.
I could always tell who was in the doghouse by which aunt got the lowly job of peeling and chopping the ever resistant "turnips."
In college when I tried to make a side dish for Thanksgiving, I asked for turnips. The friendly produce guy pointed me to an unfamiliar, although similar white and pink orb. I said that I wanted the orangey, yellow turnips that were hard to peel and chop. He peered over his glasses and informed me in his most disdainful voice that me I was looking for rutabagas, not turnips. So, with rutabagas in hand, this recipe was born. —Judy at My Well Seasoned Life
Watch This Recipe
4 to 6 side servings
Freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
Peel and coarsely chop the rutabagas. Transfer to a large pot and cover with water. Season the water with salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender. (According to my great aunts, there are two vegetables that one can overcook: the lowly ruta and artichokes.)
Drain the water, keeping about ½ cup in the pot. Add the butter and mash until the desired texture is reached. Season with salt and pepper.