Parsnips are a fairly recent discovery for me and my family.
We started eating them last year when I was desperate for new veggie options due to following a program known as Nutritional Balancing. In this program, patients are encouraged to eat 8 to 9 servings of cooked vegetables per day. As much as I love them, a girl can only handle so much roasted broccoli and steamed carrots, ya know?
Enter: the lowly parsnip.
Azure Standard had parsnips available for a decent price last winter, so I ordered five pounds. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with them! I delight in roasted parsnips with fresh thyme, mashed parsnips on top of shepherd's pie, and parsnips added to soups. And pan-fried parsnips? Ahhhh-mazing!
This fall, I was craving something crispy and salty. I just happened to have one last quart of home-rendered, grass-fed beef tallow and several pounds of parsnips on my hands, so I knew just what to do: deep fry them!
Hey, I'm a Southern girl. When all else fails, fry something! 😉
This may seem like a complicated process, but it really isn't. Deep-frying anything is a bit time-consuming, but it's definitely not difficult. And I promise, it's worth it!
Crispy Deep-Fried Parsnip Strings
- spiralizer with a 1/8-inch blade
- vegetable peeler (optional)
- 5-quart or larger Dutch oven or stock pot
- deep-frying thermometer
- pair of long tongs
- flat slotted skimmer or other large slotted spoon
- paper towels
- cookie sheet or other flat surface to lay fried parsnips on to drain
- timer (optional)
- 8 to 10 large, top ends of parsnips (use the thinner bottom ends for slicing and roasting, in soups, or puree)
- 1 to 1-1/2 quarts home-rendered beef tallow
- garlic powder
- any other desired seasonings to taste
Get out all your equipment. When deep-frying, it is important to have everything ready to go before you begin. This will enable you to give your full attention to frying and significantly decrease your chances of burning yourself or your food. Attach your thermometer to the side of your Dutch oven or pot. It needs to go all the way to the bottom. Add a full quart of tallow to the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Begin melting and heating the tallow. The tallow needs to reach between 350 and 370 degrees Fahrenheit before you attempt to fry.
If desired, peel the parsnips. With a knife, cut off the bottom, thin part of the parsnips, and the top where the greens were. Make sure you leave both ends round enough in diameter that you can easily spiralize them without a lot of waste. My parsnips were 3 to 4 inches in diameter at the top and 2 to 3 inches in diameter where I cut them off. Spiralize your parsnips (here's a quick video on Instagram). Using scissors, cut the parsnip strings a couple of times so they're not two or three feet long. Anywhere from 6 to 18 inches is fine. There's no need to be exact.
Combine all desired seasonings in a bowl, ready to be sprinkled on fried parsnips. Check the temperature of the tallow. If it is between 350 and 370 degrees Fahrenheit, you're ready to go! Using the tongs, gently place a portion of your parsnip strings into the hot oil. Notice on your thermometer that the temperature immediately decreases significantly. Don't worry — it will go back up slowly. Keeping a close eye on your parsnips, fry them until they are golden in color. Too white, and they won't be crisp. Too brown, and they're burned. Turn them a couple of times during frying for even cooking. If it helps, set a timer for 3 to 4 minutes.
When they are the perfect golden brown, carefully remove them from the pot to your paper-towel lined cookie sheet to drain. Immediately sprinkle with whatever blend of seasonings you've chosen. Use the slotted spoon to fish out any small bits that the tongs missed. It is very important to remove all the parsnips before you allow the oil to reheat and start the next batch. This will keep your oil clean and will prevent burning.
Working in batches, repeat these steps until you've fried all your parsnip strings. If, during the process, you feel your pot needs more tallow, add a cup or two more. Bring it up to temperature and keep working.
This made enough parsnip strings to make 3 meals over 3 days for our family of 4. Store in a zip-top bag for up to 3 days. No need to refrigerate. Our parsnip strings stayed crisp until they were all gone!
How Does One Use Deep-Fried Parsnip Strings?
We used part of our batch to top bun-less, grass-fed burgers. It was so delicious! The next day, we had them as a side with fried eggs at breakfast. My kids said it was like having really crispy hashbrowns! That evening we used the rest of our crispy parsnips as a topping for some Paleo clam chowder. They were the perfect textural component and didn't even get soggy in our soup.
You can serve them as a replacement for French fries if you're trying to cut carbs or nightshades. Add them to salads for extra crunch if you're like me and miss croutons. Or just do like we did and eat them right out of the bag as a yummy snack!
How do you like your parsnips?
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