Food Talk

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brown Butter

Roasted Root Vegetables

It happens every Fall. We collect enough root vegetables to be able to serve several Thanksgiving dinners at our house. The refrigerator’s crisper drawers and bottom shelf overflow with beets, carrots, celery root, and parsnips. We barely have room for lettuce or greens of any variety let alone the three types of milk we drink. Yellow and purple and sweet potatoes fill the makeshift root cellar (aka a cool/dark kitchen cupboard).

When either the refrigerator or cupboard door won’t stay shut, I know it’s time to roast vegetables. Which by the end of October is okay with me. As the temperatures cool, I’m ready for more substantial fare. Like root vegetables roasted in a moderately hot oven to coax out their sweetness and caramelized brown skins. Coated with fresh herb flecked brown butter (or beurre noisette in French), the flavors of the root vegetables transform into something pretty spectacular. Sweet and nutty.

The difficult parts about this recipe is prepping the vegetables and browning the butter. Vegetables first. Each one needs to be peeled and cut into relatively uniform shapes so they all finish at the same time. If you’re a slow chopper like me, it takes some time, but it’s worth the effort to not serve a platter of both raw and burnt veggies.

Then butter. Brown butter is butter that’s cooked a bit beyond the melting point, when the milk solids in the butter start to brown. It’s easy to burn the butter and end up with black butter (or beurre noir), which turns a very dark brown. If this happens, start over (you can save the black butter for another recipe).

Begin by slicing the butter into tablespoon sized squares. Melt the butter squares in a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter melts stir in the fresh herbs. The butter will foam up and then subside. As you stir, watch for little brown flecks and when the butter puts off a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat since it will continue to cook in the hot pan for another minute or so. (Note: the butter should be a light hazelnut brown).

Finally, coat the vegetables with the brown butter mixture, cover with aluminum foil, and roast for forty minutes. Pull off the foil and roast another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, and serve hot.

In truth, this recipe encourages vegetable and butter hoarding. I thought I should be up front about this fact. Now that you know, roast away.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brown Butter

Serves 8

7 pounds root vegetables, such as, beets, carrots, celery root, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and/or turnips in any combination
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (sliced into tablespoon sized slices)
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as, rosemary, sage, and/or thyme in any combination
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F.

To make Brown Butter:

Brown Butter
Put 8 tablespoons of butter in a small stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the fresh minced herbs. Stir, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula. When the butter foam subsides and the butter turns a light nut-brown color, turn off the heat since the butter will continue to brown another minute or so in a hot pan. Cover the pan to keep warm until the vegetables while you prep the vegetables.

To prepare and roast the vegetables:

roast the vegetables
Peel the root vegetables. Cut all the vegetables roughly the same size, about a 1-inch thick dice, to ensure even cooking. Place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl (you will have about 16 cups of vegetables). Drizzle with the warm brown butter and add the kosher salt and black pepper. Toss well with a spatula to coat the vegetables.

Transfer to two large baking sheets or pans. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, until the vegetables pierce easily with a fork. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes to 15 minutes to brown the vegetables. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.

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