Fourteen years ago, I stood in the Sussex Stationers, Tunbridge Wells and bought my then-boyfriend a copy of ‘The River Cottage Year’.  I so wanted to know about seasonality and what grew when; aged 23 and about to live with the boyf, I wanted to learn about food.  The charts were confounding, and I didn’t need to know about everything in the hedgerow.  But I bought it and cooked him roast guinea fowl for a birthday tea.

It surprised me that many of the recipes weren’t so hard.  I had cooked, off an on, growing up, but with little care. Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup + tuna + mash for tea at uni, that sort of thing.  I did learn to cook a cottage pie when I was 10, but I swear I used a tin of tomatoes.  Smashing up the spuds with the masher was the best part of that operation – the youngest of 4 kids needed to get her tension out somewhere.

Anyway.  I digress.  I love to digress.

Using leftover parsnips in this French based recipe is probably something of an abomination, whoops.  But leftover food is not for wasting.  Parsnips and fish were a common pairing back in The Day, but more often matched with salt cod.  So, I’m not going to recommend that and, unless you live near a big city, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find it, easily.  Smoked haddock, or pollack – that’s easy.

Mashing your sweet, sticky parsnips with salty, smoked fish is heavenly.  Take a piece of toast, butter it, spread on the brandade and tell me that leftovers are shit.

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Brandade

Adapted from ‘River Cottage Year’, Gill Mellor and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, p49-50
Serves 1 as a main, 4 as a starter


50 grams leftover roasted parsnips
50 grams smoked haddock
Around100 ml milk
Around 50 grams butter
1 clove garlic
Cooking oil


Measuring jug
Frying pan
Heat-proof dish
Immersion blender and bowl


About half an hour to prep and mix
15-20 mins to bake


Pour the milk into saucepan and add the fish
Turn the heat to medium and, after 5 minutes, your fish should be cooked through
Place the parsnips into the bowl of your immersion blender and pulse until smooth
You’ll need to add some of the poaching milk; keep any leftover for a chowder


Take the parsnip puree out of the blender/bowl and put to one side
Place the fish into the immersion blender and pulverise
Add the parnsips and mash until you have the consistency of mashed potato; you might need to add more of the poaching milk
Season with pepper – you probably won’t need any salt, as smoked fish tends to be salty

Scoop into your oven dish and bake for 15-20 minutes

Serve on chunky toast, and maybe some winter salad and def some pickles

Storage/further meals

This is best eaten fresh, if possible
But, if you can’t eat it all, allow to cool to room temperature then cover
Parsnips can keep to up to 5 days in your fridge
If your parsnips were 1 day old when you made this, you can keep this dish up to 3 days
If they were more like 4 days old, either eat straight away, or freeze when room temperature
Eat within 3 months of freezing

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