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Every Thanksgiving a family favorite is roasted root vegetables. Specifically:

  • Rutabagas
  • Parsnips
  • (Heirloom) Carrots
  • Beets

I cut the vegetables into 0.5x0.5in (1.25x1.25 cm) strips of approximately equal size. Then, I coat them with olive oil, ground black pepper, and rosemary and roast them in the oven at 450ºF (230ºC).

Vegetables

The problem is that they take 60-90 minutes and take up substantial space in the oven.

My proposed solution this year is to parcook the vegetables the day before so they are done much faster but still develop the delicious caramelization that makes them so popular.

My question is what is best method (boiling, roasting, etc) and level of doneness to take them?

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  • If you can’t tie up the oven space because you’ll be roasting a bird in there, my solution is to roast the bird on top of the vegetables. If you spatchcock it, you could put half on top of each pan
    – Joe
    Nov 20, 2021 at 23:47
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    @Joe that's a reasonable approach - if you don't have vegetarian guests who would miss out on the veg that's been cooked in meat juices
    – Chris H
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:48
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    Indeed, @ChrisH, we won't be serving any meat. Unless I get any more feedback I'll try roasting them about 70% of the way and report back. Nov 23, 2021 at 16:50
  • @IanCampbell that's ne thing that won't et in the way then. No time for an answer now but I've reheated (fully but lightly) roasted veg in the oven, well drained, no oil added
    – Chris H
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:52
  • My approach is to rest the bird for an hour, during which time I roast the vegetables. Any pre-cooking approach just consumes even more of my extremely limited fridge space. So I take the bird out, turn the oven up, and put the veggies in. Nov 24, 2021 at 16:03

2 Answers 2

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If I were to do this, I'd be inclined to take cues from double cooked fries --

  • Cook them (parboil, in the oven, or even frying) at a lower temperature until they're cooked through (so a knife or skewer inserted comes out easily), but not browned.
  • Let them cool, bag them up, and refrigerate them.
  • On the day that you're going to be serving them -- preheat your pans in the oven as hot as it will go. While this is happening, toss the veggies in a little bit of oil.
  • Spread the veggies on the pre-heated trays, and then put them into the oven. If it has convection, turn the fan on.
  • After a few minutes (maybe 10 minutes?) pull out one tray and do your best to flip the veggies over. Then swap it with the other tray (so if it was on top, it's now on the bottom), and flip over the veggies on the second tray, and put it back in the oven (on the empty shelf)
  • Repeat the last bullet until they're sufficiently browned to your liking.

As for your specific question -- I'm not sure of the "best" way. Boiling (or simmering) is a pretty traditional way of doing this. It can end up washing away a bit of the starches, but it also tends to make the surface just a little sticky from geletanized starch, which can be a good thing -- as you can then toss them around to rough them up, giving just a little more surface area for crisping in that final roasting.

But it's also easier to overcook them to where they're falling apart if you cook them in water. You can reduce this problem slightly by boiling slabs, and then cutting them into sticks after they've cooled down, but you'll also reduce that extra crispiness that you get from the starchy coating.

You can also par-bake in slabs, so it's easier to turn things over as they're cooking, and then cut them up. Par-baking has the advantage that it's easier to judge how it fits on the trays you're going to use, so you know how much you need to prepare.

I'd also consider par-cooking each type of vegetable individually, as it's possible that one might be cooked through before the other ones. And if you do the beets last, it'll be less mess to deal with. (I might even bag them separately, so they don't color everything else)

As for the doneness to take them -- cooked through (so no one gets an undercooked bite), but before it starts changing color significantly

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    If you par-roast to just barely browned, you can fit more in a dish when reheating, though you'll need to rearrange them a couple of times during the reheating process
    – Chris H
    Nov 24, 2021 at 8:25
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I'd roast them up a day before, put them in the freezer and reheat on thanksgiving.

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    Why freeze and not fridge if it's only for a day? As soon as they're frozen you'll need to get them out and defrost them. Also how do you recommend reheating?
    – Chris H
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:47

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