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Roots a la Crème

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

The pairing of the two classic root vegetables, carrots and parsnips, with a rich cream sauce is fantastic. The herbs and a small amount of garlic are not overpowering, but make this dish mouthwatering.

18th Century

Take some large roots scraped and washed; boil them half an hour; cut them in large slices, and put them into a stew pan, with a bit of butter, a bunch of parsley, scallions, a clove of garlic, two shallots, two cloves, and some basil; turn them a few times over the fire, and put in a little flower, salt and whole pepper, with some good broth; let them boil and reduce to a thick sauce: then take out the bunch of herbs, and add the yolks of three eggs beat, and some cream. Thicken it over the fire, taking care that it does not boil, and, before it is used, add a little vinegar.

— Menon, “The French Family Cook” 1746.

21st Century


  • 4 large carrots
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 3 small scallions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot about one inch round
  • A small pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp. or so of flour for thickening
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup cream
  • (Optional) — 1 tsp. white vinegar


  1. Peel your carrots and parsnips and cut them in large slices. Boil them until you can stick a fork in them easily (usually 15 to 20 minutes).
  2. Drain and transfer them to a stew pan. Add the butter, parsley, scallions, garlic, shallots, cloves and basil.
  3. Over a medium heat stir well to blend the butter and seasonings with the roots.
  4. Add flour, salt pepper and broth. Boil quickly, stirring as you do, until it thickens to a sauce. Remove from heat and reduce your heat to medium.
  5. Beat your egg yolks in a separate bowl and blend in the cream until both a combined.
  6. Add the yolks/cream to the roots and over the medium heat stir in until well blended and smooth. Take care not to boil or scorch this.
  7. Serve.

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