First, top, tail and peel the parsnips, then cut them in half through the centre.
Cut the top halves into 4 and the bottom halves into 2 so that you have even-sized pieces. Cut out any woody stems from the centre, then place the parsnips in a steamer, sprinkle with salt, cover with a lid and steam over simmering water for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, put the baking tray, with the oil in it, on the top shelf of the oven to pre-heat. When the parsnips are ready, use an oven glove to remove the tray carefully from the oven so as not to spill the oil, and place it over direct heat turned to low. Now add the parsnips, rounded side up, to the sizzling oil.
Then tilt the tray and use a large spoon to base the parsnips, to make sure they are evenly coated with oil. Give them a good grinding of pepper and return the tray to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, by which time the parsnips should be nicely browned and crispy. Mix the mustard and maple syrup together. Then, using a brush, coat the parnsip pieces with a liberal coating of the mustard and maple syrup mixture and return them to the oven for 8-10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 9, 475F (240C).
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