Turnip Steak

A couple of weeks back at the farmer’s market, one of the vendors had the most ginormous, beautiful turnips I have ever seen.  After snatching up two exemplars of the divine root vegetables, approximately 5” across each, it was time to return home and decide what to do with the kilo of veg in the produce bag.  That brought me to consider that while cauliflower steaks are all the rage in vegan-grilling-land, turnip steaks are really where it should be at.  And then to think that turnips are truly an underrated vegetable generally speaking.

Here, some lengthy baking mostly pre-cooks the steak and removes the bitterness that too many folks associate with turnip.  It also creates some juiciness that can stand up to the grill afterwards.  This can be served straight up – it’s definitely good enough to – but you can also make some gravy and smother it over the finished steak if you like.

For an impressive plating and richer mouth and belly-feel, place a slice solo on a black plate and then top it with a slice of roasted sweet potato, some avocado and a smooth nut cream of some kind as shown in the photo after step 8 below.

What you need:

  •  2 great big turnips, preferable 3” to 5” in diameter
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (something with corn or squash in it to give sweetness is particularly nice; fennel stock is another fun option)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon or lime, juiced (half an orange or a grapefruit makes for a different but equally good twist)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or as much as necessary for the broth to taste pleasant.  if the stock is already salted, you may not need any at all)
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Deep peel the whole turnips to remove the bitter exterior rind.  Slice crosswise into 1” or 1-1/4” thick ‘steaks’.
  3. In a 9”x13” glass or enamel baking dish, mix the stock, wine, citrus juice and bay leaves.  Add the turnip slices so they are soaking in the liquid (the upper part may stick out of the liquid, that’s fine).
  4. Cover with foil or an oven-safe cover and bake 45 to 60 minutes, until a knife goes in with a bit of resistance.  We’re aiming for cooked through but not turned to mush or overdone: this needs to stand up to a grill or some pretty aggressive pan-frying.  The time necessary will depend on the thickness of the ‘steaks’ and the age/dryness of the vegetable.
  5. When done, line a plate or baking sheet with a clean dish towel and place the slice on it in an even layer.  Cover with another clean dish towel (or paper towels) to blot off the excess moisture.  You can either grill at this point, or set it aside in the fridge for 12 to 72 hours before continuing.
  6. When ready to grill, rub the ‘steaks’ all over with olive oil and then with freshly ground salt and pepper.
  7. Grill on the BBQ at high heat or pan-fry in a well heated cast-iron pan or grill pan until both sides are well charred (see photo).
  8. Serve solo or with lots of grilled stuff, or gravy, or plated as suggested in the intro above.                                                                                                                                   IMG_0449

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