Roasted parsnip and whipped Baron Bigod by Masterchef 2024 finalist Louise Lyons

PARSNIP AND BARON BIGOD
We were absolutely delighted to see that Masterchef 2024 finalist Louise Lyons used Baron Bigod in her final dish of the series. She spoke to us about the background of the dish and her inspiration.
 
From Louise;
As a farmer the seasons are entwined with my work, but also at home with what I eat and cook. It was important to me to show this when I competed on Masterchef; I wanted to champion the very best of British farming and of British produce. 
When I made it to the final of Masterchef it was mid winter, I was tired from filming, from travelling and from trying to keep up with my farm work and family life; I was craving comfort food, and what greater comfort food is there than cheese? 
 
I find winter cooking really inspiring, I love root vegetables and the winter brassicas; roasted root vegetables can make any meal feel special, comforting and warming. It was when I was roasting some parsnips for our family supper that I had the idea of using them for my starter, a well cooked parsnip is sweet but with earthy, woody notes and is robust enough to stand up to strong flavours. For years I’d wanted to apply for Masterchef but the time was never right, however, I’d always said that if I got to the final I’d love to make a vegetarian dish.
I always have a healthy selection of cheese in the pantry or fridge, and I was starting to ‘stock up’ for Christmas when something clicked and I wondered if I could cook parsnips and cheese for the Masterchef final. My husband thought I was mad but I ran to dig out the cheese. I greedily cut off a chunk of Baron Bigod and tasted it with a leftover parsnip; the sweetness of the parsnip matched so well with the earthiness, creaminess and slight nuttiness of the cheese, I was so happy I tried another bite.
From that point I was certain that I wanted to use Baron Bigod and parsnips for my final starter. As well as being passionate about British produce, it’s also important to me to reduce waste, so I wondered how I could use the rind of the cheese. I am sure that we have all had a hot sandwich using a brie style cheese and had the rind go crispy, its always the best bit. After several attempts I found that I could crisp the leftover rind up and use it as a garnish to the parsnip and creamed Baron Bigod.
I added some hazelnuts for extra nuttiness, a cheesy crumb for texture and watercress for some freshness and peppery heat.
 
Parsnip, roasted in smoked butter and glazed in a sherry vinegar reduction.
Whipped Baron Bigod cheese, Baron Bigod crisps.
Roasted Hazelnuts, dressed Watercress and Watercress oil; Sourdough, Old Winchester and hazelnut crumb.
 
The recipe, for 2 as a starter (there will be enough parsnip trim for soup and whipped Baron Bigod for leftovers):
 
2 large parsnips
400ml Vegetable stock
100g Smoked butter 
100ml Sherry vinegar
Baron Bigod Baby (rind on)
100g Old Winchester cheese
100ml double cream
200g Watercress
125ml Rapeseed oil / Vegetable oil
100g blanched hazelnuts
100g sourdough bread 
8 bay leaves
 
Peel, halve and trim the parsnips so there are no hard edges – these may catch when roasting and we want a nice even golden colour). I serve half a parsnip per person for a starter.
Gently poach the parsnips in enough vegetable stock to cover them and 3 Bay leaves, until al dente. (You can add the parsnip peel and trimmings to the stock, or you can use them to make a soup with the stock afterwards, with Baron Bigod toast on the side!)
Pan roast the poached parsnips in smoked butter, basting regularly until golden all over.
 
Reduce 3 tbsps of sherry vinegar and 5 bay leaves until it has thickened and is glossy.
Once cooled brush the reduction over the parsnips a few minutes before serving.
 
Remove the rind from the Baron Bigod cheese, cut into rounds and place on baking paper. Bake the cheese rind between baking sheets until crispy and gently browned, this should take 10-15 minutes at 180 degrees, but watch carefully. Once crispy leave to cool.
Place the rindless Baron Bigod into a blender with a small amount of cream (25ml, the amount of cream needed will depend on the texture / temperature of your cheese) and blend until you have a smooth consistency, adding more cream gradually if necessary. It should have a fondue texture but not be too liquid. Place into a piping bag.
 
Finely grate some hard cheese (I used Old Winchester) over the sourdough breadcrumbs and toast in smoked butter until golden.
Roast the hazelnuts, finely chop half and add to the toasted breadcrumbs; halve the rest for a garnish.
 
To make the watercress oil, blend watercress with a light oil, and pass through a sieve or muslin. Dress a handful of watercress with the oil just before plating.
 
To serve, place the glazed, roasted parsnip onto the sourdough, cheese and nut crumb, top with some of the dressed watercress, hazelnuts and the Baron Bigod crisps. Pipe the creamy Baron Bigod alongside, perfect for dipping the parsnip into.
 
To watch Louise in action and to see the dish come to life, tap here.
BUY BARON