We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at the M’s: 34-lb. turkey with gravy, two kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, turnip, squash, cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie. The whole traditional spread, plus a terrific lobster pie brought by the Cape Cod contingent (this recipe, I'm told, is still under lock and key).
Turnip is probably the most underrated vegetable in the world. When it’s done right, though, it can really be a standout. Chris Douglass at Icarus makes a mean turnip gratin. It’s great roasted. Me, I like it mashed.
The town of Eastham on Cape Cod is famous (sort of) for its sweet, white turnip: the Eastham turnip. They have a kitschy turnip festival every year before Thanksgiving, to which I drag my family quite unwillingly (see my article in December's Cape Cod Life, on newsstands now). They offer turnip tasting, turnip decorating, turnip bowling. The locals are crazy for their turnips and some incarnation of the root shows up on Thanksgiving tables in the area. And if we’re very lucky, it will show up on ours.
For me, it just wouldn’t quite be Thanksgiving without mashed turnip, the other white root.
3 medium white turnips (Eastham or Macomber), peeled and chopped into chunks
2 Tbsp. butter
Dash fresh grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Bring large pot of water to boil. Add salt and turnips and boil until chunks can be pierced easily with a fork (15-20 minutes). Drain and mash with butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.