“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. The result is a sort of celeriac dauphinois without all the hassle.
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.
Or you could serve it, reheated, out of the shell of its skin as a sort of mash.
If you are lucky enough to find ready grated celeriac, consider making Improved, more Interesting, English céleri rémoulade – go here for the link.
Celeriac is quite easy to grow. The leaves look very like flat-leaf parsley. Pick out the outside, more horizontal, stalks to encourage the bulb to grow.
Recipe for cooking celeriac involving no work
Serves 2. If you have a large beast of a celeriac there may 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), or you are short of time, you can use dried Herbes de Provence.
• 4 x cloves garlic, crushed with 1 tsp salt
• one-fifth of a block of butter (about 50g)
• smoked salt
• grinds of black pepper, or some Urfa pepper flakes
- About three hours before you are due to eat heat the oven to 180°C (use the baking oven if you have an Aga). Take the butter out of the fridge if that’s where you keep it.
- Trim off the roots of the celeriac and give it a scrub. Level off the bottom so the celeriac will sit upright.
- Rub it with olive oil.
- Wrap it loosely in foil, keeping it the right way up (roots at the bottom).
- Roast for 2½ hours.
- Mash together the butter, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs.
- Take out, unwrap and cut off as little of the top as you can – but you need to allow yourself room to get the stuffing in – about 10 cm/4″.
7. Increase the oven temperature to 210°C (top right oven for Agas).
8. The middle of the celeriac should be soft, put a long, sharp knife into it several times. It will loosen it up. Start to push the butter mixture down into the cuts you’ve made. You will be surprised how quickly the celeriac absorbs so much butter!
- Return to the oven for about 10 minutes, again, loosely wrapped in the foil.
- Serve with a spoon to gouge out the unctuous interior.