The days are getting longer and winter roots in the kitchen garden are responding to the increased light by sending out new growth. Though they are covered with hay mulch to simulate darkness, even the remaining parsnips are starting to show a few green leaves. There are lots of ways to cook these sweet winter parsnips before too much new growth reduces their sweetness. One technique I’ve just begun experimenting with is turning parsnips roots into parsnip chips. They are easy to make, full of sweet parsnip flavor and definitely make me happy that there are still a few parsnips left in the kitchen garden.
A Google search for parsnip chip recipes yields some helpful techniques. All suggest using a mandoline or a food processor to create very thin slices. Recipes that recommend baking instead of deep-frying suggest lightly oiling the slices and arranging them in a single layer on a sheet pan. For cooking temperature, there is a lot of variation, from 300 to 425 degrees with cooking times varying by temperature.
In my experiments, I used a mandoline to slice the unpeeled parsnips into 1/8-inch (35mm) thick rounds. Mine is a Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer Plus Mandoline.
Then I brushed a light skim of olive on a sheet pan, arranged the parsnip rounds on this oiled surface and brushed a little more olive oil over the surface of the rounds.
Finally, because 300 degrees seemed too low, I put the pan in a 425-degree oven and set the timer for ten minutes. After ten minutes, many of the rounds were starting to curl and brown at the edges though the centers remained soft.
I removed the pan from the oven, turned the rounds with a thin spatula and returned the pan to the oven for another ten minutes. Keeping an eye on them, I found that before the second ten minutes was up, some of the chips looked brown enough to remove. Leaving them another ten minutes resulted in some chips that had turned black and bitter. Cooking at this high temperature made tasty chips but did require vigilance.
The next time, I used a 300-325 degree oven. While the cooking time was much longer, 45 minutes instead of 20, none of the chips burned, I didn’t need to be quite so vigilant, and all chips became just as crisp as those cooked at a higher temperature. For future batches of parsnips chips, I’ll probably use the lower temperature unless I’m really in a hurry.
Parsnip chips have turned out to be a hit as an appetizer. Fresh from the oven, crisp but still a little warm, sprinkled lightly with salt, they are all gone by the time the main course is ready. They may keep well in a tightly closed container, but I haven’t found out yet.