“Root vegetable related to the parsnip eaten roasted, puréed as soup, or grated raw and served with rémoulade or bresaola as a canapé (8)”
-Kate Mepham, The Daily Telegraph
I love celeriac – it has a more interesting flavour than most potatoes, yet it still qualifies as a comfort food. You can do use any of the suggestions in the crossword clue above, but all involve a degree of peeling and chopping, and the one thing about celeriac is that it is big, and it is hard. If I consider Life Is Too Short to peel potatoes, I CERTAINLY consider it much too short to peel celeriac. And as for chopping…especially into matchsticks…well…..
So this is the only way to cook them – it takes a long time in the oven, but NO time to prepare – just cut off the roots and wrap it in foil. And with the herbs, garlic and butter it’s also just about the best way too.
It’s good with all kinds of things…. in particular, smoked eel.
Or as chef-patron, Adam Handling of Frog, does, in a dish dedicated to his newly-become vegetarian mother: with truffled cheese, a confit yolk, limes and dates. “It’s a dish that covers your whole mouth – salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami” he enthuses, interviewed in Foodism magazine, “it seemed to do the best out of all the dishes on the menu….and I’ve kept it on ever since.”
If you have any celeriac left over you can make an excellent soup – fry an onion in butter; add thyme; cider; ham, chicken or vegetable stock; double cream; and the leftover celeriac. Blitz. Garnish with blue cheese.
Or, alternatively, serve as an open sandwich on rye bread with some chopped toasted hazelnuts and some mustard and cress.
If you are lucky enough to find ready grated celeriac, consider making Improved, more Interesting, English céleri rémoulade – go here for the link.
Recipe for cooking celeriac involving no work
Serves three to four with something else. If there are just two of you there will be some left over – gouge it out and add it to tomatoes á la polonaise for your lunch the following day.
• 1 x celeriac
• olive oil
• fresh rosemary, thyme, bay. If you don’t have any fresh herbs to hand (celeriac is a winter vegetable) you can use dried Herbes de Provence and add them in at the end with the butter.
• 4 x cloves garlic, crushed with some salt
• one-fifth of a block of butter (about 50g)
• smoked salt
• freshly ground white pepper
1. About three hours before you are due to eat heat the oven to 180°C (use the baking oven if you have an Aga).
2. Cut off the roots of the celeriac and give it a scrub.
3. Rub it with olive oil.
4. Wrap it in foil, keeping it the right way up (roots at the bottom) with the fresh herbs.
5. Roast for 2½ hours.
6. Take out, unwrap and cut off the top.
7. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (roasting oven for Agas).
8. The middle should be soft, so start mashing in the butter, garlic, smoked salt, and freshly ground white pepper with a fork, keep warm.