Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Conquer Gnarled Celeriac with a Roast and a Rich, Classic Gravy

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Some vegetables seem to call out to me from their produce aisle bins: “You know me and you love me,” say the broccoli, carrots, peppers and collard greens, while timed misters cover their piles of a fog. And it’s true: experience in the kitchen allows you to easily imagine the journey from raw and whole to cut and cooked.

Then there’s celeriac, aka celeriac. Gnarled and dirty, with bumps and tendrils, celery root seems to defy your imagination. “What the hell are you going to do with it? Me?”

Get the recipe: Celeriac Steaks Diane

The starter dish generally takes one of three forms: mash, soup or salad. The puree brings out the nuttiness of celeriac, the soup highlights its ability to take on a silky, smooth texture when pureed, and the salad shows that almost anything can be tasty raw if you cut it enough finely and dress it with remoulade.

The truth is, celery root can do so much more, without as much preparation as you might have thought. It has flavors reminiscent of celery (of which it is a variety), parsnips and turnips, and it gets sweeter after a stint in the oven, so I like to cut it into cubes and roast it the same way as I would do it with potatoes, or, even better. , cut it into slices to roast and serve with an old-fashioned steakhouse side dish: Diane sauce.

Celeriac steals the show in these 5 recipes

I love combining these vintage Vegas style sauces – this one includes cognac and cream and is flambéed! — with vegetables rather than meat. The celery root holds up well to processing, its earthiness highlighting the same quality as the mushrooms in the sauce. But perhaps my favorite thing about this method is that it skips the part of the preparation you would think is essential: peeling.

I have publicly declared my tendency to resist peeling potatoes, carrots, and even beets. But even I was surprised when I read treatments from Yotam Ottolenghi, Emeril Lagasse, and others that called for cutting but not peeling celeriac before roasting. In Ottolenghi’s case, the root is roasted whole for a few hours, then you cut it into slices, grill them and serve them with a Café de Paris sauce. I wanted something quicker, so I took inspiration from a recipe on Vice’s beloved food site Munchies, which involves pan-frying the slices for less than 10 minutes, then transferring them to the oven for 10 another minute to finish roasting.

The folks at Munchies peeled the celeriac and gave the “steaks” the pepper treatment, which is delicious, but I was looking for something a little richer (and with less prep). Instead of cutting off all that skin, I cut off the spindliest, hairiest roots and scrubbed. In the oven, as with whole beets, the skin softens enough to be easily eaten with a knife and fork. Next, I built up the Diane sauce, browning the mushrooms then enriching them with cream, Dijon mustard and cognac, the latter burning in a dramatic flame when you light (carefully) with a (long) match .

The result was so good that I ate more than dinner: I had another reason to be drawn to rather than resist celery root the next time I saw it in the store. I can almost hear him calling now.

Get the recipe: Celeriac Steaks Diane

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