This our favorite turnip dish (favorite turnip…never before in the history of humanity have those words been paired together). It is so loved that it is hard to think of Christmas without it; my family reserves the same level of anxiety for the turnip as we do the pie (“Are you bringing it? Are you sure you can? Should I bring it just in case? OMG who is bringing the turnip thishastohappenorChristmaswillberuined!”). Well, maybe just my anxiety.
This recipe also has great versatility: not only can it be made well in advance, but it tolerates adjustments very well. Love apples? Increase them to two, or even three. Watching your calories? Cut the sugar and butter in the filling by half. Really watching your calories? Cut out the sugar and butter in the filling entirely and substitute in a couple sweeter apples, such as Spy or Golden Delicious. Don’t love apples? Try pears. Want a quick weeknight side dish? Skip the topping—and baking—entirely (microwave the apple chunks for a few minutes to soften them up).
Makes 8–12 servings…depending on how much you actually love turnip.
1 large rutabaga*, peeled and diced ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 dash cinnamon
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and chunked
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces
Boil turnip until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well and mash with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in apple chunks. To make in advance: refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze (in a ziplock with the air squeezed out) for up to 1 month. Warm up to at least lukewarm before adding topping.
In a small bowl, blend together the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter until crumbly. To make in advance: freeze topping separately from turnip base until ready to bake. Can be used straight from frozen.
Place warm turnip mixture in greased casserole dish (what size? It doesn’t really matter, as long as you have a half inch up top to dam boil-overs). Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350F for 1 hour, until turnip is bubbling and topping is golden. (To cut down on oven time, heat up turnip base in a microwave until steaming, then add topping and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.)
*Rutabaga is an oversized turnip (called a swede outside of North America) about the size of a large grapefruit. It’s sweeter than regular turnip and has lovely deep yellow flesh. If you can’t find rutabagas, substitute about 4 normal (apple-sized) turnips.