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Nick’s kitchen: celeriac

In seasonal terms, the ‘c’ word doesn’t just cover Christmas. In our line of business, it also covers celeriac. In chef circles it’s everywhere at this time of year – it featured in a lot of the savoury chef demonstrations at the Didcot Food Festival recently. Yet it’s perhaps one of the most under loved root vegetables to be dug up from our soil.

Curl your lip at this not-so-pretty veg no more. Unfurl your brow from culinary consternation. Nick is on the case…

celeriacWhat is celeriac?

It is in the same family as celery. It has to be cultivated to allow the root part to swell and grow larger. It’s a bit gnarly and nobbily with some root structure at the bottom.

Why are we so afraid of it?

Like some other food I think its probably the fear of the unknown and ‘what do I do with it?’ It’s also quite large (small football). This can put people off as the intial prep can be awkward. A good peeler and knife are needed.

What three things can you do with celeriac at home?

It’s really quite versatile and also much simpler to work with than you think – don’t be put off by it’s appearance or bulk.

  1. Soup is the first thing – you can add a little curry spice to it to warm it up for the winter.
  2. Celeriac puree is also a must – again, other than sweating diced celeriac down in a large pan and adding stock and cream, there’s nothing difficult about it.
  3. As a raw salad product celeriac adds lovely flavour and consistency. Put it in your coleslaw, or get ‘chefy’ and make a celeriac remoulade, which we currently use on our Soused Mackerel dish. It has to be cut into fine matchsticks and then added to mayonnaise and herbs.

What were the celeriac nibbles you tested on the tasting menu recently?

We sent out some celeriac as part of the canapé/amuse bouche. We sliced it on our gravity slicer to produce thin celeriac lasagne sheets. We then blanched them in water for 10 seconds just to soften. To order we grilled them like a pancake to char slightly and then added green apple puree and black pudding crumb to the top.

Any other celeriac tips/insight?

Don’t be scared of it. Treat it like any other root veg. Last year we did a whole dish based around celeriac for our vegetarians. It consisted of celeriac fondants, puree and pickled diced celeriac, it seemed to go down well. However, Mary hated it!

Let us know how you get on…!

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