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Savory Flan by Tim

Savory Flan Inspired by Café Matou from Tim Granzeau

Café Matou was a wonderful French bistro in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.  In the early 2,000s we had a private dinner there with friends from New Orleans.  My app included a small custard timbale.  The waiter told me to take a taste and tell her the flavor.  I surprised him by immediately saying “parsnip!”

It took me almost a year to replicate the recipe and this one is perfect.

NOTE:  This recipe invites you to change to a different flavor profile.  How about carrot flan, beet flan, turnip, rutabega, etc.  Have some fun!


Ingredients:    For 4 to 6 servings


            1 pound           parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes

            5 cloves           garlic, peeled

            1 1/2 cups        whole milk


            1 1/2 cups        heavy cream

            2 large             eggs

            1 large             egg yolk

                                    salt, white pepper and cayenne to taste


            4-6                   ramekins, well buttered (we use silicone muffin cups)


Method:          Pre-heat oven to 325°F.  Place oven rack in center


1.         Combine parsnips, garlic and milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, until parsnips are soft.  Strain and save about half the milk and puree the parsnips/garlic with an immersion blender until very smooth. 


2.         Transfer the parsnip puree to a large measuring cup and add the reserved hot milk.


3.         Whisk the eggs with the cream and add to the parsnip/garlic puree.  Whisk to combine.  (You may adjust texture and volume with cream.)  Season with salt, white pepper and cayenne.


4.         Set ramekins in a roasting pan and boil water for the bain-marie.


5.         Pour flan mixture into the ramekins.  Pour boiling water half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Roast the flans for 30 to 40 minutes.  Cool the ramekins on a rack for 10 minutes. 


NOTE:  Ramekins vary in size, material, and thickness.  That means different cooking times for each variable.  You want the flan to partially set; that’s about 175-180 degrees.  Keep notes about your own ramekins.



Optional ingredients:

            Add fresh pureed garlic to flan mix

            Use 1/3 cup parsnip with 3 heads of garlic for a garlic flan.

            Carrots will produce an orange flan – which may be too sweet.

            Spinach will produce a green flan – use heavy cream.

            Roasted peppers will produce a yellow or orange flan.


You may juice a vegetable for flan.  Be careful to taste the pulp and juice separately for flavor.  If using juice, you will need heavy cream and extra egg yolks for texture.  Reducing the juice may add to sweetness or produce bitterness.