First of off, let me tell you that we are in the middle of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights – and Festival of Freedom. In Jewish homes, you will see the Menorah, an 8 armed candelabra, where one candle (the Shamas) is used to light list one additional candle each night which, this year for once in a millennium, began on Thanksgiving!
Tonight, we light the 6th candle. Tradition says that when the Maccabees restored the temple from the desecration left by the conquerors, only sufficient pure oil to relight the lamp over the Holy Ark for 1 day was found. It would take 8 days for a messenger to go to the nearest town where pure oil could be obtained and return. But, says legend, the 1 days’ worth of oil lasted for the full 8 days. So we celebrate this by eating foods that are fried in oil; potato pancakes (latkes), donuts, etc.
This recipe is for Deep Fried Parsnip Chips or “French Fried Parsnips’ if you prefer. Parsnips are not a vegetable most Americans tend to eat for some reason. The Brits love them and we should, too! They look like a large, white carrot and are sweet. In fact, my English girlfriends call them “Sweets”! My mother used to add a parsnip cut up into big chunks to her Chicken soup to give it some natural sweetness.
So try these – if you want chips, cut them uniformly thin (use a mandolin if possible) so they cook evenly. If you want ‘sticks’, cut them into that shape (remember the Brits call our “Fries” Chips, like Fish & Chips! If you want them spicy, once they’ve been drained, go ahead and toss them with chili powder or cayenne to taste…or drizzle the ‘sticks’ with hot sauce! Either way, enjoy them.
Deep Fried Parsnip Fries or Chips
- 3 large parsnips, peeled and very thinly sliced (a mandolin works well for this)*
- Peanut oil or Safflower oil, for frying
- Freshly ground black pepper, optional
- Cayenne pepper or chili pepper, optional
If you are cutting your parsnips in advance, place in a owl of cold, salted water. Be sure to drain and dry thoroughly before putting into hot oil to avoid splattering.
Cut parsnips into evenly sliced rounds or *cut into evenly sized sticks (like traditional French Fries).
Heat oil to about 3” in a deep, heavy bottomed pan to 375. In small batches, fry parsnip slices until just beginning to turn golden brown. Using a skimmer, drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and any other seasoning of choice. Continue until all chips are done.
*If making “French Fried” Parsnips, they should be turned occasionally to brown evenly on all sides.