By Catherine Lee, 30 November 2011 –
2 oz (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
2½ lb (1.25 kg) parsnips
6 oz (175 g) plain flour groundnut or other flavourless oil
a knob of butter
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C). Begin by combining the flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Peel the parsnips using a potato peeler. Then halve and quarter them lengthways and cut each length in half across, so that you end up with smallish chunks. Cut out any tough woody centres. Now pop the parsnips in a saucepan, pour in enough boiling water just to cover them and add salt. Put on a lid, bring them to the boil and boil for 3 minutes. Meanwhile have a large kitchen tray ready. Then, as soon as they are ready, drain them in a colander and, whilst they are still steaming, drop a few at a time (with the aid of some kitchen tongs) into the flour and parmesan mixture, shaking the bowl and moving them around so that they get a good even coating. As they are coated transfer them to the tray. Make sure you do them all fairly swiftly as the flour mixture will only coat them whilst they are still steamy! When they're all coated they are ready to cook or store in the fridge or freeze. Any leftover flour and Parmesan can be kept (sifted) in the fridge or freezer for another time. What is important is to have plenty in order to coat the parsnips quickly. To bake them, place a large solid roasting tin in the oven to pre-heat and in it put enough oil just to cover the base and a knob of butter for flavour. Then, when the oven is ready, remove the tin and place it over direct heat (turned fairly low) and, again using tongs, place the parsnips quickly side by side in the tin. Tilt it and baste all the parsnips with hot fat, place the tin in the oven and bake them for 20 minutes, then turn them over, drain off any surplus fat (a bulb baster is good for this) and continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until they are crisp and golden.