Deep Fried Parsnips – World’s Best Bar Snack?

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Crispy, salty, sweet, sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese and dusted with a couple of grinds of pepper, on a fry-crazy evening, we served these classic bar snacks along with deep-friend fish & chips. No one had to be scolded to eat their vegetables!

Bill Briwa, chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, calls deep fried parsnips “The World’s Best Bar Snack.” After frying up a batch, we think he’s got a good case!

We used a vegetable peeler to achieve the very thin ribbons of parsnips desired for this dish. In his instructional materials accompanying The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking, (produced by The Great Courses) Chef Briwa employs a mandolin. A little care and a very sharp knife could achieve the same effect. The key is to cut the parsnips thin.

The other secret to ensuring that these snacks come out right every time is to make sure your oil isn’t too hot. It doesn’t matter whether you use canola, light olive oil, peanut oil or another oil suitable for deep frying, but don’t allow the temperature to climb above 300 degrees F. Parsnips have a lot of sugar; they’ll burn before they become tender at higher temperatures.

This makes them a logical appetizer to cook up with a meal of fish & chips. As the oil heats up to 300 degrees F, place the parsnips in. The temperature will drop a little at first, and that’s OK. It only takes a couple of minutes for them to become golden brown and crisp.

When they’re done, turn them out onto paper towels to drain off the oil and sprinkle a little salt over them. They’d be good served just like this, but to create a snack people can’t get enough of, add a little parmesan cheese. You can warm up a bowl in a countertop oven, place the drained, salted parsnip chips in the warm bowl, and gently toss them with grated parmesan, letting the warmth soften the cheese so it better adheres to the chips.

The final step is to turn the parsnips out onto serving plates in a nice, tall haystack. Hit it with a couple of grinds of pepper and serve. The cold beers should already be poured!

13 thoughts on “Deep Fried Parsnips – World’s Best Bar Snack?

    • OK, you’re teasing us. What’s the skinny version? We saw that the book you reference has received excellent reviews, and we’ve long known that the olive oil industry is as corrupt as most others. (Many “Extra Virgin olive oils don’t live up to their claims.) We have also read that Kirkland (Costco’s brand) Extra Virgin is the real deal, which is what we use when we’re not cooking at high temperatures. So what’s the scoop on light olive oil?

      • You’d have to read the book to get more details, but here’s what we can remember: Light olive oil is the lowest-grade olive oil made from the twigs and leaves of the olive tree. The industry uses a chemical process to extract oils out of the plant matter and then filters it, perfumes it, and mixes a tiny amount of real olive oil to get a consistent blend and color. However, sometimes it is blended with other low-quality oils and sold under the “light” olive oil brand. Unfortunately the corruption goes back to the source, probably before Costco’s (or anyone’s) quality control.

        Much of this is because Americans don’t like the taste of real olive oil. That being said, we purchased the olive oil available from Full Circle and it has an amazing flavor, like nothing we’ve tasted before. This is for not frying. For frying, we guess it doesn’t really matter. Just thought you should be aware.

        *Trolling for Jacks*

        • Thanks for the additional angle on the subject of olive oil. It stands to reason that extra light olive oil would begin with more impurities – and lower grade fruit – than extra virgin, cold-pressed oil. We’ve always assumed that in the context of deep-frying, which is the primary use of extra light olive oil, within reasonable boundaries it doesn’t matter.
          We’ve tasted a variety of extra-virgin olive oils – occasionally laying out serious money for a few golden-green ounces. Choosing one is akin to choosing a good wine. For the price, we’ve found no better than Costco’s organic brand – full-bodied and agreeably peppery. For taste (and for purity) California grown and produced olive oil ranks high, but those brands can be expensive. From where does Full Circle get its olive oil?

  1. B – I love all your posts. You know that. But, I particularly love a post that can look at, salivate, AND think – I can actually make that at Casa TSL. YUM!!!

    Happy new year to you both (we’re having a heat wave down here)

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