I spent two weeks this summer with Chef Vivian Howard of Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC and the star of the PBS show A Chef’s Life. She graciously let me live in her and her family’s homes and work alongside her. It was a culinary dream. On the third day I was with Chef Vivian she was scheduled to do a Thanksgiving photo shoot for The Locale Palate at her gorgeously modern home. In July. I had spent the day before helping to prep the dishes that would be served/ shot at the shoot. There was turkey and all the fixings, with a Vivian twist, of course.
I learned the importance of uniform dicing with this dish, or a version of it. Vivian showed me how she wanted the bread cubed and her instructional sample sat at the edge of my cutting board in the kitchen of Chef and The Farmer as I used her knife to prep. A culinary dream.
The nightmare, however, was that I didn’t memorize how it was put together because when the ingredients where given to me to prepare, the last thing I thought was that a turnip dressing would be delicious. I have never been so wrong. After the shoot we, the camera crew and behind the scenes prep staff, gorged on Vivian’s amazing food. This turnip dish was the standout for me. Maybe it was because it was the last thing I expected to love, but I did. I loved it. And I’ve been craving it since I returned back to my home and my normal, far from Kintson, NC, life. I’ve been craving it since July.
Then Fall came and nestled it’s beautiful colors all around and harvest vegetables seem to be falling at my feet. When turnips came around I promised myself to figure out this dish. So, today, I did. People, it is amazing. Thank you Chef Vivian.
- 1 loaf french bread (6 cups cut into ½ inch cubes.)
- 5 cups turnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubed
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cups kale, stemmed and chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ¼ lb. shaved country ham, roughly chopped
- 1¼ cup shredded parmesan, divided
- ground pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375. Spread the cubed bread onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until dry, but not brown.
- Set 2 quarts of water to boil. Boil the turnips for 5 minutes or just until they begin to soften. Immediately dunk in an ice bath.
- Melt the butter and saute the garlic and onions for 5 minutes in a large, heavy pan (I emptied and used the turnip pot).
- Add the kale and stir to coat with butter and onion mixture. Add the bread, chicken stock, ham, and ¾ cup of the parmesan. Stir well.
- Transfer to two 9x5 loaf pans, cover with tinfoil, and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle the ¾ cup parmesan and bake for another 15 minutes.
P.S. This is where you can find Vivian’s version. This is where you can find the Epicurious version. You can see me in the background of the show which aired tonight, November 9, 2014. Season 2, Episode 6. The Apple Episode. Oh man!
P.S.S. I used a french baguette I made from Tartine. I implore you to begin making bread from it. Immediately.