A right couple of gnarly beauties. Celeriac, one of my favourite winter vegetables & a welcome change from all the greens. These round roots with tough skin, a little gnarly & muddy bottomed they don’t look like they would be all that appetising, but don’t pass them by. They are a versatile root that can be mashed, eaten raw in salads, the star attraction in a velvety smooth soup or braised alongside other meat & vegetables in a comforting stew.
Also known as knob celery or celery root or turnip-rooted celery it was developed from wild celery, a member of the parsley family. It was one of the first vegetables to appear in recorded history & is common in Europe, think the classic French remoulade of raw celeriac & a mustard mayo, & also in the Middle East. Not to forget in Ancient Egypt they gathered the plant for its seeds to be used as a flavouring & the Ancient Greeks used it in medicine.
*If you are buying celeriac or celery root look for good sized ones (about 3/4 of a kilo or 1.5 pounds) that feel heavy for their size & have no soft spots. Overly large & they may be a little spongy in the middle & very small ones will leave you with not very much once they have been trimmed & peeled. They’re also a keeper, for me in more ways than one. To store, don’t wash them, just wrap them in a dry paper towel & pop in a loosely sealed plastic bag & they’ll keep in the fridge for a week or 2.
However, one of my favourite ways to have celeriac is in a velvety smooth puree drizzled with a little, or a lot of, brown butter, which I find makes everything a whole lot better.
Celeriac Puree with Brown Butter
3 cups milk
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 large celeriac (about 2 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes*
1 medium potato, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes. I used agria.
1 small onion, peeled, quartered
5 tbsp butter, cut into 5 pieces
Ground white pepper
Good sized knob of butter
*You’ll need to move quickly or have some acidulated water (just plain water with a little lemon juice added) to hand to avoid the white flesh turning brown.
Place the milk, water & salt in a large saucepan over high heat & bring to the boil. Add the celeriac, potato & onion. Reduce the heat & simmer until vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain & discard the cooking liquid.
Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor & puree until smooth. Do this in batches if need be & add the butter a little at a time. Taste & adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
For the *brown butter melt the in a small frying pan over a medium heat stirring occasionally until the butter becomes light golden brown. Remove from the heat. The butter will continue to cook & turn a darker nutty brown colour & will smell amazing! A nutty, toasty, buttery aroma that will make you want to dive right in. Drizzle the butter over the celeriac puree & serve.
*Brown butter, also known as beurre noisette or utterly delicious, is made by cooking butter long enough to turn the milk solids and salt particles brown while cooking out any water present. Brown butter is traditionally served with fish, but makes a delicious addition to all sorts! Great drizzled over vegetables such as brussels sprouts & broccoli or over pasta or risotto with a few crispy sage leaves or a lovely toasty buttery nuttiness to muffins or cakes . Be warned it is highly addictive!
Serve on the side with chicken, steak or fish. It is velvety smooth, mellow & a little sweet yet full of flavour & the brown butter delivers its wonderful toasty nuttiness.
If you like this you might like this; Potato & Celeriac Gratin
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