PB&C

June 21, 2010

Nope, that PB doesn’t stand for peanut butter. It stands for parsnip and bacon. The C is for carrot, and together, they make a pretty awesome sandwich. We’ve been doing a lot of sandwiches lately in the Pasto household — they’re tasty and quick to put together, but you can still dress them up to be something more interesting than your typical … well … PB&J. (:

You’re probably wondering where I got the crazy idea to put parsnips and carrots in a sandwich. I blame it on Apicius. The Romans wish they had thought of this. It is so good.

This is a variation on a vegetable side dish found in Apicius. I’ve folded, spindled, and mutilated it into something totally different, but it still has its roots deep in the heart of Rome.

PB&C

Makes 2 sandwiches

  • 4 strips bacon (preferably thick-cut)
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Marsala
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce (unless you happen to have garum, the traditional Roman fish sauce, around the house. I don’t.)
  • freshly ground black pepper (or alternatively, Balinese peppercorns, which where what the Romans used)
  • a generous handful of fresh cilantro
  • olive oil
  • 4 slices rustic Italian bread (I used pane Pugliese, because that’s what I’d baked this past week)

Cook up your bacon in a skillet. Nice and crispy!

Cooking bacon

Mmm, bacon.

Use a splash guard if you have one, while your bacon is cooking. When it’s done, set it aside on a plate covered with a paper towel to help drain the grease. Pour off most of the bacon drippings out of the skillet — there’s no way you’ll need that much! Leave somewhere between a half-tablespoon and a tablespoon in the skillet.

Bacon drippings

Extra bacon drippings. Save 'em for other meals!

(As a side note, I often use my bacon drippings in my pie crusts. Yeah, I know, that’s kind of weird, but it’s really not much different from using lard. You just get an additional smoky flavor. This works *great* with apple and pumpkin pies! Also, it makes the pie crust way easier to handle.)

Peel and chop your carrots, and peel, core, and chop your parsnips. Parsnips have a spongy core, that in the words of Alton Brown, “is definitely not good eats.”

Parsnip core

See the core in the parsnip? Take that part out.

Add the carrots and parsnips to the skillet, along with the ground cumin and black pepper (or Balinese peppercorns), and sauté them in the bacon drippings until they’re close to tender. When they’re almost ready, add the honey and wine and cook until you get a nice glaze. Add the fish sauce and use it to deglaze the pan. Your final result should look like this:

Carrot-Parsnip Mixture

Delicious carrot-parsnip goodness

While your carrots and parsnips are cooking, brush a little olive oil on both sides of your bread slices and grill them up or toast them.

Tear your cilantro into sprigs. Did you know the Romans didn’t eat basil? Seriously. They thought it attracted scorpions, and used it almost exclusively for medicinal purposes. Cilantro was a much more common herb choice at the time.

Now you’re ready to construct the sandwiches!

For each sandwich, top a slice of grilled bread with two strips of bacon, a generous scoop of the carrot-parsnip mixture, and some fresh cilantro. Top with the other piece of bread, and chow down. You may want a fork for the carrots and parsnips that try to escape. There is NO ESCAPE! (: Yum!

Completed sandwich

Savory, smoky, crunchy, herbal, and just a touch sweet. Deee-licious!

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