Creative Franco-American cuisine- Muriel Poulin’s Scalloped Navet

SPRINGVALE, Maine – An international nursing heroine from Maine was lost when Muriel Poulin died. She was a native of Springvale, Maine.

In addition to being a proud Franco-American, a friend and an internationally recognized nursing leader, Muriel Poulin was also a good cook. My husband and I were honored when she invited us to join her family and friends at the Christmas parties she hosted in her Springvale home. Of course, toutiere (pork pie) was always the main course on her Holiday (Noel) buffet table. She also gave me a family recipe she prepared with “le navet” (rutabaga/turnip). I recall how she and I discussed the French word for “turnip”, being “le navet”.  In memory of my nursing friend and to recognize the pride she had in her Franco-American heritage, I am publishing her recipe for “navet”, “Scalloped Rutabaga”.  In her memory:  Muriel Poulin (1925-2019)

Navet

Muriel Poulin’s recipe for Scalloped Rutabaga (avec navet)

Les navets (turnips) are popular in France, French Canada and with Franco-Americans. Although le navet is a popular root vegetable, because of the long shelf life, there are more creative ways to cook it than just in a stew. Nevertheless, in our home, a boiled dinner is always cooked “avec le navet”; moreover, we include them in our family’s recipes for soups and side dishes.  Mashing le navet with carrots is delicious.

In my opinion, mashing “navet” with butter creates a sensational side dish. They are delicious when served with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Mashed and prepared with butter, the French method raises le navet above being an ordinary root vegetable. In my home, rutabaga (navet/turnip) is a staple! We always have one available in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer.  They can also be purchased ready to serve in some supermarkets, so the cook doesn’t need to peel and chop them, a task that involves some strength. However, purchasing them ready to serve reduces the vegetable’s shelf life.

In fact, Franco-Americans enjoy eating rutabaga, whether it’s as a stand-alone vegetable, a side dish or mixed with other flavors, like carrots or apples.

Just be sure the final presentation is served with melted butter!

I prepared Poulin’s recipe, with a few step by step picture description to illustrate the cooking process, pictures below:

Navet (en francais) – Scalloped Rutabaga  and Apple from Muriel Poulin

Muriel gave me this recipe in August, 2000, and she encouraged me to share it with others.

Scalloped Rutabaga and Apple (Navet et Pomme)

Ingredients

One large rutabaga

One and a half Tablespoon of butter

1 and 1/2 cup of sliced apples

1/4 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon (to taste)

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

Procedure

Cook and mash the rutabaga and add 1-1/2 Tablespoon butter to the mixture.

Toss in the sliced apples with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Alternate the layers of rutabaga and apples in a greased casserole and end with the rutabaga.

Mix until crumbly, the flour, the 1/3 cup of brown sugar and two Tablespoons of butter. (Use a pastry blender or your clean hands!)

Spread the brown sugar and crumb mixture over the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 F for one hour.  Always serve warm but this recipe can be prepared in advance of serving.

Le navet

Le navet- the rutabaga turnip

Navet mashed

Navet prepared to layer with sliced apples. (Cook le navet by steaming or boiling for about 25 minutes until tender.  Drain the water and mash with butter.)

Prepared le navet for the oven

Layered sliced apples with mashed le navet, topped with a brown sugar and flour crust.

Muriel Poulin (1925-2019) was the originator of this recipe. She retired from the Boston University School of Nursing, before the program was closed by BU’s administration. She was a native of Springvale, Maine, a post graduate educated nurse, a world traveler, a hospice volunteer extra-ordinary and she spoke French.  Muriel A. Poulin, 94, passed away peacefully on Sept. 6, 2019 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

Other French-Canadian recipes I collected over the years (including tourtieres) are available at this Maine Writer link https://www.mainewriter.com/recipes/

Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.