Meat / Recipes

Rainy Night Food: Pork and Turnips

Yesterday was a busy one at the studio. I started out with my now-regular routine: Make the coffee, get the day’s loaf of bread shaped and on the peel to bench proof, oven on to preheat. Then I spent some time on the phone with B&H working out a missing power cord from a recent equipment order. By then it was time to flour, slash and bake the bread. After that the day went into a blur of equipment testing and organization which included a fairly huge reorganization of my kitchen to make this whole cooking thing work better. And before I knew it, it was time for dinner. Honestly, I don’t know what happens to the day. I look at my watch and it’s 8am and the next minute it’s 7:00pm. When I worked in cubicle land the time between 8am and 11am was about three weeks.

Pork and Turnips by St. Louis Food Photographer Jonathan Gayman

I’d been thinking about making a dish that I read about in The Minimalist Cooks at Home for several days for a few reasons. First, it seemed simple. Second it involved meat, and learning more about meat is one of my recent goals. Third, it involved turnips, and I have been kind of fixated on root vegetables, I guess because it’s fall. So I picked up the pork and the turnips and was all ready to cook. But then Dr. Fiance went off to Kansas for the weekend and so I put it off, not wanting to eat this one alone. Monday night rolled around and despite being warm-ish outside, it was rainy and gross. Perfect time to cook up some cold weather comfort food. And since I already had all the ingredients I didn’t have to trek out for food in the storm.

The recipe is fairly basic although there were one or two things that I disagreed with. For example, the recipe calls for a medium frying pan. I found that my medium frying pan was far too small to get the job done properly. Unfortunately my large frying pan doesn’t have a lid so I had to go with the medium. I had trouble getting all the pieces of the pork and turnips to contact the pan directly, which meant that I wasn’t able to get the sear necessary to get everything nicely browned. Additionally, I think the sear is supposed to lock in the moisture. I also I think the amount of wine needed should be increased from the original recipe.

Pork and Turnips by St. Louis Food Photographer Jonathan Gayman

Rainy Night Pork and Turnips

Based on the recipe by Mark Bittman from The Minimalist Cooks at Home

What’s In It
1 Tbs Oil
1.5 lbs of Pork (shoulder or loin – I used loin) cubed
1.5 Lbs of turnips cubed
1+ cup Wine or Chicken Stock
2 Tbs chopped Parsley

How to Make It
Chop the pork and turnips into 1 inch cubes. Preheat a large skillet with lid over medium high heat for a few minutes until hot. Add the oil, and allow the oil to heat up for a minute or so. Add the pork and try to get it as spread out and flat on the surface of the pan as possible. Do not touch for several minutes until brown. The smell at this point is amazing. Once you have one side nicely browned, turn all the pieces over and get started on browning the other side. After a couple minutes, add the turnips and let them brown for another couple of minutes. As Bittmann mentions in the original recipe, turnips have a ton of starch and brown quickly. At this point the dish smells so incredible that it’s tough to finish cooking because you will want to eat it as is, half cooked from the pan. But finish you must!

Add half of your parsley (retaining half for garnish) along with some salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the wine which will immediately boil, deglazing the pan of all of the little bits of turnip and pork that have stuck to the surface. Cover and cook until everything becomes soft. The original recipe called for a half hour, stirring every ten minutes. Watch it carefully and add a little more wine as necessary if it starts to get dry. When everything is soft, serve over rice with the parsley as a garnish.

After Action Report

  • As I mentioned, my dish was a bit dry. I think a larger pan to allow the proper sear and the addition of a bit more wine at the beginning will fix that.
  • I used a cheap white wine. Since the recipe doesn’t have much added flavor or spices other than the pork, turnips and wine, I think a stronger favored wine would add more depth. You could swap out a nice savory chicken stock which would work well too.
  • The original recipe says you can add some cream to the sauce at the end, which might be a good variation. Since I didn’t have any sauce by the end I wasn’t able to test this theory, but cream makes a lot of things better. And butter, butter is good too.
  • I was surprised at how much I liked the turnips. I’ll have to experiment more with those. And rutabagas (which I’ve been fascinated with since childhood reading about Peter Rabbit, I was a big fan, I had the doll) since they are similar to turnips apparently. Lots to learn!


  • Ericka
    November 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I would try this with parsnips. My dad’s favorite vegetable (other than greens with tons of ham hocks) is the rutabega. We had them so much as a kid, my brother and I despised them. I should give them another go.

    Crazy idea, but I bet a red wine would be interesting too.

  • ShootToCook
    November 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Ah, yes parsnips. Good call. I was thinking red wine also, but I guess I was worried about the color? I dunno, it would probably be lovely.


Leave a Reply