Last weekend I returned to Eastern Market for the first time in almost two years. Since my previous trips were during the spring and summer growing seasons, I have to admit my surprise (and delight) at the hustle and bustle I discovered there, even in the depths of Michigan’s dreary winter months. After digging around on Eastern Market’s website today, I discovered a few cool facts about my favorite Saturday morning destination in Detroit: Eastern Market was established in 1891 (thus celebrating 120 years of operation this year!) and in 1977, it was designated a historic area by the State of Michigan Historical Commission.
In the excitement of my return to Eastern Market, I was overtaken by the huge selection of variety and failed to ensure all of the produce I purchased was in fact locally grown (oops!). I know that my onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots came from Michigan farms, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my gigantic rutabaga was an out-of-stater. Despite this possible oversight, I stayed clear of any stand offering a bounty of tropical fruits, as these were obvious imports from lands far, far away.
Despite its questionable origin, my most prized possession upon leaving Eastern Market that morning was my mysterious rutabaga, for I had never before tasted this root vegetable, let alone prepare one. My interest in cooking and eating rutabaga stems from The Real Time Farms Blog post offering cooking ideas for this veggie. Curiosity got the best of me and I tried two of the three suggested recipes-mashed and roasted. A few days later, with half a rutabaga still hanging out in the fridge, I decided to get creative and make some fries. I thinly sliced the remaining rutabaga, along with a sweet potato, mixed them up, and divided them into two groups. I coated each group with olive oil, then tossed the first group in a mixture of salt, pepper, and curry powder. The second group got a coating of pre-mixed bread crumbs. For lack of a deep fryer (and a desire for a healthier fry) I baked the fries in the oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until they were crispy and cooked through.
Here’s a shot of my rutabaga and sweet potato fries:
The results? In general, the sweet potato fries tasted better and had a nicer texture than the rutabaga fries, which weren’t soft enough on the inside for my liking. I thoroughly enjoyed the curry fries but didn’t care much for the bread crumb ones. I also experimented with sour cream and barbecue as dipping sauces, which definitely added some flavor. I think slicing the rutabagas a little thinner next time and baking them slightly longer than the sweet potato fries would yield better results. The curry sweet potato fries are a definite win and I’ll be making them again soon.