Roasting is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables because it concentrates the flavor and makes the outside nice and crispy. Getting the texture of roasted parsnips right can be tricky, so I use them most often to make puree. As PutneyFarm pointed out, roasted parsnips with excellent texture can be made by parcooking them first. Steaming is better than (par)boiling, because boiling will dilute the flavor rather than concentrating it. This is less of an issue with steaming, but I thought of a different solution if you have enough time. Since roasted parsnips are great as a side to a stew, you can easily take this approach when you start the parsnips right after the stew is in the simmering stage. My idea is this: make a stock out of the parsnips peels, and parboil the parsnip slices in that stock. This way the parsnip flavor will be concentrated.
Parsnips have a wonderful sweet nutty flavor that pairs well with thyme. You can roast them in ordinary butter or oil, but for something special it is great to use duck fat, goose fat, or beef suet.
Here’s what I did.
enough duck fat (or butter or oil or goose fat or beef suet) to coat the parsnip slices
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
fresh thyme to taste
Put the parnip peels in a pot or saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. (I also added the thyme stalks for additional flavor.) Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 to 60 minutes. Discard the peels and reserve the parsnip stock.
Parboil the parsnip slices in the parsnip stock with a bit of salt for about 8 minutes.
You can remove even more of the fat using kitchen paper. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. (Seasoning at the end gives better texture, as my experiment with potatoes showed.) I served the roasted parsnips with the venison stew that I will post tomorrow.