Pub Fare

I don't often go out to eat at restaurants. Part of that is being frugal. Restaurants, even when a coupon or discount is involved, are just more expensive than eating at home. Part of it is simplicity. I tend to be a hermit and the mere thought of piling on layers of clothing to keep warm (trust me, this is a must in Wisconsin in February), crawling into the car, finding parking near a restaurant, waiting for a table, trying to hear my family over the sounds of other diners, and unwinding the process when the meal is done is rarely something I actually look forward to with anticipation. And part of it is feeling pretty spoiled by the menus that make their appearance at my own dinner table night after night. For instance, when I'm contemplating a perfect plate of pub fries, why head out when this is what can sit before me while I dine in my slippers:

And hey, these aren't just any fries — these are parsnip fries. They are beyond delicious, baked (so they are better for you than most fries, but you'd never know), and accompanied by a bowl of garlic aioli that will have you wanting to grab a spoon. They are pretty straight forward to prepare. Unless your parsnips are very fresh, I highly recommend the 20 minute bath in ice water before slicing them into fries. The cold water will help them crisp up and you'll end up with perfect fries that are crisp on the outside and oh-so-tender on the inside.

I've kept the seasonings for the fries limited to some garlic and salt, but feel free to use your favorite seasoning blends, a dash of crushed red pepper, or even a sprinkling of grated cheese (add that after roasting, though) to make them all your own. The ingredients for the aioli tend to make more than you'll need for the fries (but don't let that stop you from indulging!), but I find myself spreading it on sandwiches and mixing it into casseroles if I have any leftover and I'm sure you'll do the same.

These fries are wonderful alongside your favorite burgers or sandwiches. I recently served them as a side for a BBQ meatloaf and they are also great with fried fish. Really, any dish that enjoys the company of traditional french fries will love spending time with these classy parsnip fries. And given how little hands-on preparation time is involved, so will you!

Roasted Parsnip Fries with Garlic Aioli

  • 10-12 medium parsnips (about a pound), peeled and soaked for 20 minutes in ice water
  • 1/4 c. olive oil — NOT extra virgin
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. fine salt (pickling or popcorn salt will work well)
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. fried garlic (available at Asian groceries)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Coarse salt, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400° F with a rack set in the middle. Using a knife, cut the parsnips into strips, at least 2 inches in length, 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width.

Toss the strips in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag with the olive oil and fine salt and arrange in a single layer on one baking sheet covered in a silicone baking mat.

Roast in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, check, turn, and then continue roasting until the fries are golden in color and soft within when poked with a fork. It usually takes somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the pieces.

While the fries roast, assemble the garlic aioli by combining the mayonnaise, fried garlic, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. You can assemble the aioli up to 48 hours in advance.

Remove the fries from the oven, sprinkle with a light dusting of coarse salt, and toss gently. Serve immediately. You can, of course, use any combination of seasonings to flavor your fries. Serve with the garlic aioli for dipping.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour (including ice water soaking time)