Well, friends, we went full autumn for this one. The days are officially short, the air is crisp, and winter vegetables are fully in season. So we reached into Ronni Lundy’s Appalachian cookbook, Victuals, and came up with this recipe, which seemed perfectly suited to a November afternoon.
In the past we’ve had a bit of difficulty finding all the local and seasonal ingredients to fully bring these recipes together. We’ve toured the grocery stores of Brooklyn and Manhattan, scoured Amazon, and ultimately made some substitutions, with varying levels of success. But this time, perhaps for the first time, we were actually able to find all the prescribed ingredients right here in New York City — and we only had to go to two stores! So from the start, this edition of All the Fixin’s felt like a success — and it only got better from there.
Root and Sausage Pie (adapted from Ronni Lundy’s Victuals)
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (we got the “hot” variety — unintentionally, but fortuitously)
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chicken, vegetable, or beef broth
1 teaspoon paprika (Ronni specifically calls for the “Hungarian sweet” variety, which, thanks to Scout’s roommate’s coworker’s recent jaunt to Budapest, we actually had!)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled, chopped parsnips (about eight small ones)
1 cup peeled, chopped carrots (about two large ones)
1 cup peeled, chopped turnips (about three and a half small ones)
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (we used yellow)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. The recipe is intended for cast iron or another oven-safe kind of dish, but if you don’t have one of those in your kitchen arsenal (*cough Scout cough*), you can just use a regular old pan and transfer the mixture to a baking dish for the oven portion of the event.
Add the sausage and cook, using a spoon to break it into 1/2-inch chunks.
When the meat begins to release its juices, add the onion. Fry until the meat has begun to brown and the onion is softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl (or your oven-safe dish, if it is not the same as your skillet).
Turn the heat down to medium and deglaze with the broth (for the Scouts among you, this means pour the broth in the pan and stir, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom).
Add the paprika, salt and vegetables. Allow to come to a simmer, then cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 7 minutes.
While the veggies are simmering, prepare the topping. In a bowl, mix together the cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the buttermilk and stir well. The batter should be thick but pourable.
Combine the vegetables with the meat and onions. If you’re using a skillet to bake, do so in that. Otherwise, transfer the whole shebang to your baking dish.
Pour the batter evenly over the sausage and vegetables, using a spatula to smooth it over any empty spots and into the corners and edges.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the batter is set and starting to brown. Take care not to bump the top with your oven mitt when checking its doneness or you, like us, will end up with a marred top. Alas.
[Note from Ronni: “If the top is not invitingly flecked with browned spots, put the skillet under the broiler for 1 minute. Watch carefully, as it can quickly go from brown to burned.” We did not do this, seeing as Scout does not have the faintest idea how to operate her broiler.]
Serve hot, straight from the skillet/dish!
Y’all, this dish is like a culinary hug — the definition of “fall goals.” The delicious aromas emitting from our simmering vegetable pan started to get our hopes up, and boy did our bowls deliver. We were glad for the happy accident of our “hot” sausage, since it added a nice kick to balance out the velvety richness of the paprika and vegetables — the paprika and carrots delicately sweet, the turnips adding a slight bite. If you weren’t using spicy sausage, we would recommend adding some kind of pepper to rev up your dish, since it is a bit light on the seasonings. But frankly, it doesn’t need much to make this sing. Will definitely make again!