Season 3, Episode 9: They Call ‘Em ‘Bagas



Lillie shows Vivian three different ways to bring out the bitter and the sweet in rutabagas. Vivian showers her team with thoughtful holiday gifts as they prepare a New Year’s menu that blends Italian and Eastern North Carolinian influences. A hectic New Year’s Eve at the restaurant ends in a toast and a smile, despite brewing tension.

Vivian’s Cooking Demo


Vivian’s Featured Recipe

Stewed Rutabagas


This stewed rutabagas recipe is courtesy of Chef Vivian Howard, and is featured in the They Call ‘Em ‘Bagas episode of Season 3 of A Chef's Life.



  • 2 quarts water
  • 8 ounces smoked bacon, preferably slab but
  • slices will work too
  • 2 pounds rutabagas or 8 cups, peeled and cut
  • into a 1 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine the water and the bacon in a 4 quart saucepan. Cover and bring it up to a boil. Reduce the eat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the rutabagas and continue cooking covered for about an hour, checking the water level periodically to make sure the roots are mostly submerged.
  2. The amount of time it takes for the rutabagas to soften up really depends on the age of the roots. I’ve cooked them as little as 30 minutes and as much as 2 hours, so you should test for doneness all along the way. Once the roots are very tender, drain off all but 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and pluck out the bacon.
  3. Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Using a collard chopper or large fork, mash up the rutabagas. You’re looking for a chunky rustic texture. Taste and add a little more cooking liquid or sugar if you like.
  4. Add the salt, and take the collard chopper or a large fork to the roots, greens and sausage like you’ve got something to prove. I don’t normally recommend trying to achieve a mushy mess, but in this case I do.

Yield: Makes 5 cups


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Episode 1: Stop, Squash and Roll

Vivian seeks motherly advice from Mrs. Scarlett and her sister Johna over dinner. Premiered September 5. Check local listings. Continue

A Chef’s Life - Season 3, Episode 2: Pretty in Peach

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