Mashed carrots and parsnips were a frequent dinnertime side in our house when I was a little girl. And let me confess, I hated the mixture.
But no matter how much I begged my Mom to spare me this weekly “treat”, these root vegetables regularly appeared alongside my roast chicken and potatoes.
“Just one bite!” I can still hear her instructions. Dutifully, I let a miniscule amount pass my lips, before grimacing in disgust. But believe it or not, her persistence paid off. Today I love this earthy veggie combination.
Most recipes recommend a vegetable pureé when pairing carrots and parsnips, but in Ireland the texture is seldom silky smooth, with a slightly lumpy mash preferred. I’m really doing a bad job of making these veggies sound appetizing. By now, you probably have visions of me being force fed “lumpy” mash.
But honestly, this combo is truly satisfying and is wonderful alongside roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or to set off a Sunday roast beef.
So how about a tutorial on how to cook this popular side dish – Irish carrot and parsnip mash.
- 3 large carrots
- 2 medium parsnips
- 2 oz butter
- 2 tablespoons cream
- salt and white pepper to season
Irish parsnip and carrot mash doesn’t have any fancy onion or garlic flavors added. It’s simply the two veggies combined with butter, cream, salt and pepper.
I use white pepper for this recipe since that’s what my mom always used. I only discovered black pepper when I came to America. So, I stick to white pepper and, truth be told, I don’t like black speckles in the middle of this lightly orange colored mash.
Carrots are harder than parsnips and take longer to cook. To make sure your parsnips don’t go mushy while you wait for your carrots to tenderize you have a few options.
- First, you can just chop the carrots into smaller pieces than the parsnips, and boil the vegetables together in the same pot for the same amount of time.
- Or you can give the carrots a head start before adding the parsnips. If boiling the vegetables a 7 minute lead time is good, but if steaming, the carrots need at least 10 minutes extra cooking.
- Or you can do what my mom always did, and cook the parsnips and carrots in two separate saucepans, and only combine them when they are tender, drained and ready to mash.
I find option 1 difficult, since I can never accurately estimate the right size for each vegetable.
Since I don’t like cleaning too many saucepans, I usually go for option 2 and give my carrots a little head start on the parsnips.
I also like to steam the veggies, so I don’t risk burning my fingers when adding parsnips to simmering water.
So steam the carrots for about 10 minutes, then add the parsnips and steam them both for about 20 more minutes until they are fork tender.
Drain the vegetables and return them to the bottom pan. Mash them together using a potato masher.
Add the butter and cream and mash together a little more.
Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Transfer into a serving dish and garnish with a nice knob of butter.
Feel free to add a little green with some parsley if you like. You’ll have all the colors of the Irish flag, green, white and orange. I never saw fancy parsley on my carrot and parsnip mash as a child, so I just stuck to a nice piece of melting butter to garnish this dish for its photo shoot.
Hope you all enjoy this ever so Irish vegetable side dish. Here’s the printable recipe:
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom