Fritter is one of those words that has largely fallen out of use. In the minds of Britons of a certain generation, it will forever be inextricably linked with Spam – itself no longer exactly the height of fashion. And yet, there is nothing wrong with fritters. They are just fried things – like frites and frittata. What is an onion bhaji if not a fritter? Or a croqueta?
This parsnip version isn’t battered or breadcrumbed, and the result is soft and yielding rather than shatterably crisp, but it is no less good for that. The cooling savoury accompaniments provide welcome contrast and crunch.
For the fritters
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
75g grated parmesan
½ nutmeg, grated
1 medium egg
3 tbsp plain flour
Light olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
For the slaw and dill cream
300g crème fraiche
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Fine sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp chopped chives, plus extra to sprinkle
3 tbsp chopped dill
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp caraway seed
250g beetroot, finely shredded on a mandolin (or grated)
250g carrots, finely shredded on a mandolin (or grated)
150g savoy cabbage, finely shredded
½ red onion, finely sliced
For the fritters, peel the parsnips and cut the flesh into rough 1cm chunks. Tip into a pan of salted boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook for 10 minutes until soft enough to squash with a fork.
Drain thoroughly, then return to the pan and leave on the hob for a minute or two to steam off any extra moisture – you don’t want the parsnips too wet. Mash thoroughly and season with 1½ tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then leave to cool for a few minutes.
Beat in the 3 cloves of crushed garlic, thyme, mustard, parmesan, nutmeg and egg, then sprinkle with the flour. Mix everything together until smooth and well combined. Put to one side while you make the slaw and sauce.
Mix the crème fraiche, garlic, herbs and ½ tsp salt in a small bowl.
Put the mustard, vinegar and caraway in a mixing bowl and stir together. Add half the crème fraiche mixture and beat together, then add the shredded vegetables and toss until evenly coated. Adjust the seasoning and put to one side.
Heat 5mm oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Sculpt rugby ball shapes of the parsnip mixture between two dessert spoons and drop into the fat as you go. Give them about 2 minutes each side, turning when the first side is crusted with gold. When they are done, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper to get rid of any surplus fat.
Put a mound of slaw on each plate and place a few fritters alongside. Add a splash of the crème fraiche on top, then sprinkle with a few extra chives and grind over a little more black pepper before serving.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book is Good Things to Eat.