Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Celeriac, Two Ways

On New Year's Eve 2009 I tried celery root for the first time and fell in love. Our regular local supermarket (Superfresh) never seems to carry it, so when I found them at H Mart a few weeks back, I grabbed one. Unfortunately, we didn't use it right away and after a few days it got bad and had to be tossed (as did much of the produce from that trip - grrrrr).

The other day I had to stop at the Giant to pick up some veggies for Easter dinner, spotted a pile of celeriac and tossed one in my basket, vowing to cook it right away. And I did - the next day. On that Saturday, I decided to make celery root two ways - as a mash, with some potato, and as the classic celeri remoulade.

For my protein, I decided to use the last bit of black barbecue sauce on some poached chicken thighs. The meal was like a riff on traditional bbq and sides - bbq chicken, slaw, and fries. Only the fries were mash. And of course celery root stood in for cabbage. And most of the potatoes.

I found a recipe for celery root remoulade in the Joy of Cooking, but it inexplicably called for cooking the veg before grating it. I was pretty sure that it was a raw dish, which was confirmed by a peek in my copy of The Complete Robuchon. Here's my adaption of the recipe. I used slightly less than half of my 1.5 lb root.

Celery Root Remoulade

3/4 - 1lb celery root (to make about 3 cups when grated)
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Remoulade Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons capers
2 medium cornichons, chopped into small dice
1 tsp minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp minced fresh tarragon (or 1/4 tsp dried)

Make the remoulade by stirring together all sauce ingredients

Trim, wash, and peel the celery root. Quarter it and grate it in a food processor or by hand. Immediately toss it with the lemon juice to prevent browning.

Stir the remoulade sauce into the grated celery root and taste for salt and pepper. Serve chilled but not too cold.

For the mash, I chunked up the rest of the root along with one red potato and boiled it until tender. Celery root doesn't mash as smoothly as potato with a standard masher, so it was a tad lumpy. That's ok. I added milk, butter, and a splash of half-and-half, plus salt and pepper.

The two versions were a nice contrast to one another. The mash was sweet and creamy, kinda like a parsnip mash but with a celery flavor. The raw salad was creamy in a different way, and rather tart. I loved it, and Mr Minx enjoyed it as well. The remoulade was a rather haute version of tartar sauce - sub out the cornichon for sweet pickle relish, and it would taste more familiar. But I liked the savory remoulade and plan to make it more often. How would it taste on potato salad? Actual cole slaw? And of course, with crab cakes?

I plan to find out.

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