When you grow up hearing a word consistently pronounced a certain way, you make some assumptions. First, you assume the pronunciation is correct. Second, you assume everyone in the whole big world pronounces it the same way. Your merry little life continues as long as the assumptions remain unchallenged. Then, something compels you to write the word. Being a lover of words and books, you drag out your trusty dictionary to make sure you have the spelling of the word correct.
It was Junior High School. I can’t remember the reason I was writing about rutabagas but it may have been the commencement of a food writing career.
After a long time of searching for “rooterbegger”, the following conversation took place:
Me: I can’t find rooterbegger in the dictionary. How do you spell it?
Me: That’s not rooterbegger.
Mama: I know. It’s rutabaga.
Me: But, I want rooterbegger.
Mama: A rooterbegger is a rutabaga. The correct way to say it is ‘rutabaga’.
Me: Then, why do we say ‘rooterbegger’?
Mama: That’s the way Mama always said it.
The conversation stopped dead cold. If Granny says it that way, ain’t nobody gonna argue. However, I still think rooterbegger is way cooler than rutabaga.
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yield: a mess
This fleshy, yellow-orange root vegetable is one of my favorites despite the fact they are hateful as the dickens to peel and cut. Recruit people with strong hands to help with that chore. Once the prep is done, it’s smooth sailing.
The amount of seasoning listed in the recipe is simply a guideline. Cook, taste and adjust to suit your taste buds.
Rutabagas may be served diced, as shown in the picture, or mashed. They tend to be a bit bitter. A little honey softens the flavor somewhat. Bacon drippings add a touch of smokiness.
2 rutabagas, peeled and diced
1 tablespoons bacon ddrippings
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place diced rutabagas in a pan and cover with water. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Taste and adjust.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says
LOL My father made up words all the time. And names. My brother was mossy face for a long long time. I loved this post.
Jackie Garvin says
Mossy face! LOL!
Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says
Oh, I do love “rooterbeggars”, too, but they are a bugger to peel and cut up!! DH doesn’t like them at all, but then he’s a yankee, so what can you say. Add some cornbread and a porkchop, and you are in heaven. And sprinkled with lots of black pepper.
Jackie Garvin says
We had ours with cornbread and pan-fried flounder tonight! Ummm,ummm!
MJ David says
I hate to tell you, Sue, but I’m a yankee, and I love rutabaga (not so sure about rooterbeggars though)!! We grew up having mashed rutabaga at Thanksgiving every year. For some reason, we never had it the rest of the year. I didn’t like it til I was an adult. My Mom is gone now, but my sister carries on the tradition of bringing rutabaga to Th’giving dinner. Yummm. I’ll be sure to pass this recipe along to her. Also, a friend of my sisters told her she should look for the unwaxed rutabaga at the store. She said they taste better and they’re easier to peel…but I think they’re hard to find.
June Peacock says
Haven’t tried this so can’t positively say it works but it came from a very reliable source: wrap the rutabaga in paper towel and microwave it for 8 to 10 minutes. Will peel and cut so much easier.
Never heard of it here in the UK , is it anything like a swede?
Mary Ann says
I always add one to my stew adds such nice flavor. And yes, I love Granny’s word too!
We grew some this year in garden. They were even more amazing than regular! I had to get daddy to mail me seeds. Couldnt get them here!
I grew up calling them “rooterbeggers” too!
They were also called “hanovers” by some people.
Curtis and Linda's Daughter says
I so love this post! We love “rooterbeggers” here in Florida, yep, that’s what Georgia raised grandma used to call them. My husband loves them and I make them for him at least once or twice a year. I make them a few ways but this one is his favorite.
Dice 1 – 2 lg. rutabagas in bite sized pieces.
Brown some bacon in a pan, take the bacon and set it aside but leave the drippings.
Add some onion (1) and belled pepper (1/2) to the bacon drippings
Stir veggies until the onions become a little translucent. Set aside.
Put rutabagas in the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp. of sugar, and a little Mrs. Dash (I add Mrs. Dash for color).
Stir in the pan for about 3-5 min.
Now, add back in bacon, and veggies.
Add 1/4 cup of water and put a top on it to steam on medium low heat for 15 – 20 min or until rutabagas are tender.
When I make it this way I serve it with fried chicken or pork chops, seasoned rice, mustard or turnip greens and cornbread. Yummmmmmm!!!
Jackie Garvin says
Goodness gracious! Your version sounds delectable. I could make a meal off your rooterbeggers. 🙂
I love them cooked this way although i have not used bell pepper in my recipe. I also use a seasoning called “Everglades Seasoning” instead of Mrs. Dash.
Susiebell Peeples Lunamand says
Jackie–If you ever get offered “rooterbegger” greens, TAKE ALL YOU CAN CARRY! My parents used to plant a large garden and always included rooterbeggers–not just for their roots, but also the greens. We would cook the greens just as you would turnips greens, but they taste so much better than any other cooked green I have ever had.
Also, homegrown rooterbeggers blow away those waxy huge hard boulders that are sold in the grocery store as rutabagas….
Jackie Garvin says
I’m right there with you, Susiebell! I love rooterbeggers greens and roots cooked together. I found a little man pretty close to where I live that grew them. I was a steady customer for him. He was quite elderly and I haven’t been able to find him for the past couple of winters. I tried growing them but didn’t have good luck. My husband found some at a produce stand over the weekend. We cooked them yesterday and I finished up the leftovers today. Rooterbeggers with hotwater cornbread made a good meal!