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Holiday First Course: Parsnip Soup, Country Ham, Mushrooms

table setting

'Tis The Season For Seasonal Ingredients

Chef Daniel Orr says it's a tradition during the holidays to use local and seasonal ingredients, "things you grew all summer long and maybe you dried, canned or preserved. Then at Christmas time you break out all the stops and you enjoy all that stuff you'd been working on all year."

We're continuing to cook our holiday feast today at Gretchen Marks' home in Columbus, Indiana. Her kitchen looks like a farmers market exploded all over it. Luckily, we have a detailed menu for our holiday feast, so all these ingredients have a very specific purpose.

Parsnips have a sweet, floral flavor, and the sweet potato leaves are like spinach. For a special holiday treat, finish this Parsnip Soup with fresh oysters.

Chef Orr got one of Jim Fiedler's pigs from Fiedler Farms and he cured ham out of it. Over the past four months, it's been coated with salt and rinsed several times with vinegar and stored in the root cellar. He's now slicing bites of this Country Ham to enjoy with Mission figs.

One final dish for today, something for the vegetarians. Unlike other mushrooms, we are slow cooking these Chicken of the Woods in a lot of liquid. They tend to be a little bit dry, and as a result, they will absorb the moisture of the stock.

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