This could be prepared ahead in the casserole dish, refrigerated for a day or two, and heated in the oven on the day of the feast.
- Kitchen sink
- One stovetop burner
- Vegetable peeler
- Large chef’s knife (8+ inches)
- Cheese knife
- Large cutting board
- Liquid measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Small bowl (for measuring)
- Medium size pot with lid (if boiling)
- 9×13 inch baking sheet that has 4 sides (if broiling)
- Aluminum foil (if broiling)
- Mixing boll (if broiling)
- Casserole dish (8×8″ square)
- Medium-size serving platter or bowl
- Trivets or hotpads
- 3 lbs turnips (the size of turnips you find in the store will vary greatly, we found enormous ones that were 1 lb each)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (if broiling)
- .5 lb gruyere cheese
- .5 lb shredded parmesan cheese
- 1.25 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp sugar
Clean turnips by rinsing them.
You need to precook your turnips. They do not need to be soft enough to mash as they will cook further in the oven. There are two options for precooking your turnips: Broiling or Boiling.
Broiling: This mimics the idea in some of the historical cookbooks of cooking them in the ashes. Peel your turnips as the skin is generally very bitter. Slice them into slices about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Measure your vegetable oil into the mixing bowl and toss your turnip slices into the oil to coat.
Set oven to Broil / Hi.
Unroll aluminum foil across the baking sheet until you have enough to cover both the bottom and the sides. The objective is to make a liner that will leave the pan easier to clean.
Lay out your turnip slices on a single layer on your pan. Place pan of turnips on middle rack.
Broil for 8 minutes, flip turnips over, and broil for another 8 minutes. Turnips should be tender when poked with a fork. They will have some browning as well.
Boiling: Some of the historical sources also tell you to precook the turnips by boiling them.
Fill your medium pot about 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Add the turnips and boil for about 30 minutes until tender.
Peel the turnips. Slice into slices about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
Once the turnips are cooked, peeled and sliced…
Measure your spices into the small bowl.
Measure your heavy cream.
Mix the spices into the heavy cream.
Slice your gruyere into thin (approximately 1/4″ thick) slices.
Lay out half your turnip slices in a layer in the casserole dish. Pour in half of the spiced heavy cream. Layer half the shredded parmesan cheese on top of the turnips.
Lay out the rest of the turnip slices. Pour in the rest of the spiced heavy cream. Layer the rest of the shredded parmesan cheese on top of the turnips.
Lay out your gruyere slices on top.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cook until the cheese bubbles, approximately 20 minutes.
Move rack to top of oven and broil on Hi for 5 minutes. You are looking for some toasted browning on the top.
Remove from oven and let cool briefly before serving.
If you prefer less expensive cheeses than gruyere, this recipe will work with a variety of cheeses that melt well. Cheddar is not recommended as it tends to go oily. You could use entirely parmesan or a mix of parmesan and mozzarella for example. Colby jack will also work well, especially for the top layer of cheese.
This recipe appears in a variety of historical cook books, including from a variety of European nations. The name “armored turnips” comes from an Italian version (rape armoratum) of the recipe. Here is another redaction with text from several of the historical sources.
Be warned before you make and eat this, that according to one 15th century German source, turnips heat up the body and cause gas and unchastity!