As I excitedly exclaimed when I received the job offer, I am now a Chef Chef! Translation I’ve taken a position as executive Chef. Yup I said I’d dedicate myself to my own kitchen and suffer for it, but at this point the suffering is good. For me it is a dream position, private club with weddings and plenty of room for creativity.
I’m pretty sure I’ve gone completely bonkers, there are downsides to the position, like for now having to have a commuter marriage. But nothing good ever comes easy.
So yes, I am now Executive Chef Jolene. Nice ring. There have been some hurtles to overcome with the menus and logistics, still works in progress but completely worth it.
And now that I have gushed about this position, how about some food?!
One of the reasons I love private clubs are the members. Some times they can spring last minute surprises on you, like an intimate dinner for 6 at the last minute. Which yes, happened in my second week. But members are worth it and I look at occurrences like these as a sort of chefs black box challenge. What do I have in the fridge or freezer to make an excellent meal up to the standards I expect to put out.
I got lucky that week and my produce had just arrived for the weekend wedding, it included parsnips. I LOVE parsnips, when they are cooked correctly. And my favorite way to prepare them, parsnip silk. So naturally this had to find a way into the main dish, and it was delicious. So incredible. I might be drooling right now thinking of it, my stomach definitely grumbled.
This was used as a base and as the sauce for my super secret pork recipe (it’s all in the to die for spice rub) and as a bonus a technique lesson as well.
2cups chicken stock
1/4cup heavy cream
Ground white pepper
First prepare the parsnips by peeling, removing the top and tail and if they are older or large, remove the woody center bit from the large end. This is most easily done with a good sharp pairing knife and a V shaped cut.
Slice the parsnips so they will cook evenly.
Place in a pot, cover with cold stock. You want only enough stock just to cover the vegetables. Then place on your parchment paper lid, see the bottom of this post for the technique lesson and instructions.
Cook the parsnips at a gentle simmer until they are very soft and tender.
Drain off but reserve the chicken stock.
Using blender, food processor, or immersion blender puree the parsnips with half the amount of cream, add cream and stock until you have a silky smooth puree that is your desired consistency. Thicker for a base or a vegetable component, thinner for a sauce.
Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
The parchment paper lid is a French cooking technique and is properly referred to as a cartouche. And it does actually serve a purpose beyond “I don’t have a lid that fits this pot”
It is used to try and control heat and evaporation and in this application it also prevents discoloration of the parsnips. The cartouche concentrates flavour, prevents the parsnip from cooking to mush and is really a great technique to learn to utilize also, it’s very simple to make!
-Take a square of parchment, fold it in half.
-Fold it in half one more time so you now have a smaller square.
-Trickiest part : fold your square into a triangle, do NOT fold so that a folded edge is the top of the triangle. Always have the folds making the point.
-Okay fold into a smaller triangle!
-almost done, fold it again. It kind of looks like a very sad attempt at a paper airplane right now.
-Take your parchment to the pot you want to make a lid for and place the tip of the triangle at about center of the pot. You want to trim off the excess from the ends after the INSIDE edge of the pot.
-Nip the tip off the triangle to make a center hole in your lid if wanted, and for this recipe we do.
-Unfold and delight in your lid! (If you get two semi circles instead, you folded wrong at the first triangle step.)