Cooking with Lady Smokey: Stay Grounded with These Root Vegetable Recipes

December is such a wonderful time for visiting with great friends and family. Often times, though, the holidays bring some extra stress to our lives making it hard to juggle work, extra visits, holiday errands and baking. Below are a few seasonal root vegetable recipes to help keep you grounded and nourish your house guests.

Grant and I have had some conflicting schedules lately but we try to make sure we get to spend at least every Sunday together. Often we make time to cook a good meal together on Sunday afternoons. Many times, Grant will prepare a roast chicken with vegetables as his Mom often did on Sundays when he was a kid. I am always excited for this as it usually means we have some excellent leftovers to carry us into another busy week. Here is his latest version, as they are always a little different.

Roast Chicken with Root Veggies
• 1 small Whole Chicken
• 30 tiny New Potatoes
• 3 Carrots, cut into 1” rounds
• Salt
• Pepper
• 2 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
• 2 slices Bacon
• ½ cup Chicken Stock

Preheat the oven to 375. Butterfly the chicken (slice down the backbone and splay it out). Rub the chicken with salt, pepper, and most of the rosemary. Place chicken, surrounded by the potatoes and carrots, in a large baking dish or big iron skillet. Cut the bacon slices in half and drape over the breast and thighs of the chicken. Place the chicken in oven and cook until it is done, approximately 45 minutes. Add stock to the bottom of the pan and mix thoroughly with the potatoes and carrots. Turn oven heat up to 450. Remove the bacon from the chicken and place it in the bottom of the pan. Cook about 10 more minutes, until chicken skin is well browned. Let chicken rest 10-15 minutes. Chop up bacon and mix with the potatoes and carrots. Sprinkle the remaining rosemary over the top. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

This next dish can be served so many different ways. You can serve it as a side dish or for breakfast with an egg on top and sausage on the side. You can spice it up with hot sauce or sweeten it up by adding apple to the mix. You can toss some greens in at the end to make it a more complete meal. You can sprinkle some bacon or cheese over top to make it a little more decadent. Oh, and you can use any combination of root vegetables you wish.

Root Vegetable Hash
• Olive Oil or Ghee
• 1 Onion, chopped
• 1 medium Potato, peeled and cut into cubes
• 1 medium Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into cubes
• 3 Carrots, peeled and cut into rounds and then quartered
• 3 Parsnips, peeled and cut into rounds and then quartered
• 2 Beets, peeled and cut into cubes (not pictured here)
• 3 cloves of Garlic, crushed and chopped
• 1 Tbsp Fresh Herbs, chopped (Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, and/or Sage)
• 1 cup Stock (Vegetable or Chicken)
• Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Add the olive oil or ghee (enough to coat the bottom of the pan well). Add the onion and stir. Let it cook for a couple minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Stir to mix and then let cook for about 10 minutes. A crust will form on the bottom. Reduce heat to medium and stir. Add the chopped herbs and the stock and let cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

This next recipe is a simple, comforting dish. It can be a one-bowl meal or would be nice as a warm winter side dish.

Mashed Root Vegetable Gratin
• 2 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1” rounds
• 2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1” rounds
• 1 Sweet Potato, peeled and sliced
• 1 Russet Potato, peeled and sliced
• 1 Celeriac, peeled and cut into cubes
• 1 Onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
• 2 Tbsp Butter
• 1-2 Tbsp chopped Fresh Herbs, a blend of any of these- Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup grated Cheese, any or all of the following blended- Gruyere, Cheddar, Parmesan Reggiano

Prepare all of the root vegetables and place in a pot with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer until they fork done. Meanwhile, saute the onion in one Tbsp butter. As it starts to soften, add the garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the garlic and onion are soft, turn the heat off and add the herbs. Heat oven to 375. Once the root vegetables are done, drain the water from the pot. Add the rest of the butter and the milk (you may not need the entire cup so add about half of it first, gradually adding a bit more as needed to get the consistency you want) and mash the vegetables using a potato masher or a mixer. Add the onion mixture and the about half of the cheese. Mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a baking dish that has been greased. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for about half an hour, until top begins to brown.

I will close with this simple sweet potato pie recipe. I blended the ingredients to get a really creamy texture. It made it very light and fluffy.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie
• 3 medium Sweet Potatoes (about 3 cups sliced)
• 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
• ½ cup Brown Sugar
• 1 tsp Cinnamon
• ½ tsp freshly ground Nutmeg
• 1 tsp Vanilla
• 1 ½ cups Buttermilk
• 4 Tbsp melted Unsalted Butter, cooled
• 1 unbaked Homemade Pie Shell

Preheat oven to 375. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into rounds. Toss with olive oil and place in an oven safe baking dish. Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes, when sweet potatoes fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Preheat oven to 400. Puree the sweet potatoes in a blender with eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add butter at the end and mix. Pour into the pie crust and bake for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool completely before slicing.

I hope you are enjoying plenty of Christmas music this month! Last year, we got a new cd to add to our Christmas music collection with a nice compilation of holiday tunes from our East Nashville neighborhood.

It has been in heavy rotation again this year and this past weekend Grant participated in a live performance and benefit with many of the musicians from the cd at 3rd & Lindsley. It was an excellent way get in the holiday spirit.

The DanBerrys and Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Tim O’Brien and Off The Wagon

You can pick up a copy of it for yourself here and all the proceeds go to help the National Health Care for the Homeless Council so it makes a great gift.

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