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!