Mandioquinha, Batata Baroa, Peruvian Parsnip or By Any Other Name; Arracacia xanthorrhiza are Divine
They look like carrots, but don’t think carrots. Think of a potato eloping with a macadamia nut. A grilled T-Bone loves mashed potatoes, but a South American, grass-fed Bife de Tira or Baby Beef Steak loves mashed batata baroa. Imagine the ultimate comfort food, mashed potatoes packed with an earthy, nutty punch.
These tubers go by many names. Arracacha, apio criollo, arrecate, mandioquinha, batata baroa and the peruvian parsnip are a few. Not to be confused with their Eurasian cousin the common parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), the arracacia varieties are native to the Andes. They were believed to be cultivated by the Incas, and are currently grown in Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil.
As versatile as the potato the batata baroa (I’ll call it what they call it here in Rio) can, of course be mashed, made into casseroles and soups and makes excellent gnocchi. Their starchiness really comes out when you mash them. It looks as if you could use them as grout for bricks. They absorb so much more milk and butter. Unlike potatoes, their texture does not suffer when using a hand-mixer. But, like my experience with potatoes, they don’t do well in the freezer.
The variety common here in Rio is golden. They look like you’ve added a touch of saffron. I don’t include a recipe here. I merely suggest, for a maiden voyage, mashing them like you would potatoes.