I love all the quaint names the British have come up with for food: Bubble and Squeak (potatoes and cabbage) Stargazey Pie (which I've been dying to make, but I think if I served that, my family would move out in protest. I'm saving it for a day when I need that to happen...) and, of course, Oggies. Neeps and Tatties are another simple dish with a lyrical name, typically made as a side dish for Haggis on Burn's Night, which was this Saturday the 25th - a celebration of all things Scottish, especially their most revered poet. We have a wee bit of Scottish ancestry, so I decided to delve into our roots via some root vegetables.
Neeps is a short form of the word "turnip," although confusingly in this instance it refers to Rutabagas (or Swedes, as they're known in the UK.) You can apparently use turnips for neeps and tatties, but in my humble opinion you should eat rutabagas whenever you can - because they're delicious. Tatties is of course short for "potato" (see how it works? Kinda riffing on the middle-consonant sound, right?) and this dish is simply about cooking both and mashing them together.
Neeps and Tatties
1 large rutabaga
2-6 potatoes (get the same weight of potato as rutabaga)
approximately 1/4 cup milk
approximately 2-4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Put your water in a large pot on the stove and bring it to a boil while you prep your vegetables. We cooked the potatoes and rutabaga separately, so if you're pressed for time, do two pots of water (we did it in turns.)
Sparky peeled the rutabaga with a vegetable peeler (slice off the top and bottom end with a sharp knife.) and then sliced it into chunks. Rutabagas are typically covered with wax to prevent spoilage, so it's important to get all the peel off.
We like to mash our potato with the peel, so those just got cut into chunks about the same size as our chunks of rutabaga.
Sparky put the vegetables on the stove to boil - first cooking the rutabaga chunks until tender, then scooping them out and setting them aside in a warm oven. Then he added the potato to the boiling water; each took about 10 minutes to reach that perfect, just-tender-throughout consistency. Test them with a fork periodically as they cook; you don't want them falling apart or crumbling, but they should not resist your fork when poked.
I helped Sparky drain off the water and put the potatoes back into the pot. The now-dry pot with the vegetables went back on the heat to steam off any remaining water and make sure everything was still piping-hot (aren't they pretty?)
Sparky used a potato masher to gently (see how gently?) smash everything together into a lumpy mass, tasting and seasoning as he went - the idea is to leave distinct bits and chunks of both potato and rutabaga, but that the dish is still cohesive and creamy. Butter and milk were added as needed to loosen things up, but we tried to be minimalist with them - we wound up using a couple tablespoons of butter and no milk - you may need more or less, depending on how much you're making and how dry your vegetables are.
That's it! Serve your Neeps and Tatties with dinner - it goes phenomenally well with turkey, which, though a poor substitute for haggis, was delicious. Enjoy!