Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pan-Roasted Celeriac with Rosemary Butter

We had a strange visitor in our CSA box a few weeks ago.

I won't tell you what Amy and I think it looks like, but let's just say if you cut the green tops off and put two of them side by side it would be more obvious.      

Celeriac, also called celery root, is related to other root vegetables like parsips and carrots.  It was developed from celery but was bred for its root rather than its stalks.  It smells and tastes like celery and parsley.  It can be cooked just like a potato - mashed, boiled, roasted, fried, etc - so it makes a good low-starch side dish.  

I figured Bittman would have a solid way to cook this, and of course, he did not let me down.  I think you could pan roast anything in butter and I would probably eat it.  

One tip if you decide to make this: don't be lazy and cut your celariac into different sized pieces.  I cut mine into a mix of 1/2-inch and 1-inch pieces because I didn't care and was trying to be quick.  I then got super impatient waiting for them to cook, and as a result, I took them out of the pan before some of the larger pieces were really as soft as they should have been.  The smaller pieces tasted delicious - melt in your mouth, soft and buttery texture - while the larger pieces weren't as soft in the middle, and had a slightly raw flavor.

Bittman says to work in batches if you have more than what will fit into a single layer in the pan.  I had a pretty large pan but couldn't get them all in there.  I was fine with working in batches, until I read how long they take to cook - 30 minutes.  Batches?  Are you kidding me?  Forget that!  I'm not going to hover around in the kitchen for an hour cooking a side dish.  Don't be like me and just try to rush each batch.  I suggest you either get two pans going, or just make half the recipe.   

Pan Roasted Celeriac with Rosemary Butter
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
Serves 4-6

This side dish would go with any grilled or roasted protein.  If you can't find celeriac, you could use parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes, or carrots instead.  

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, or a combination 
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 pounds celeriac, trimmed, peeled, and cubed (see note above)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

Add the butter to a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When melted, add the rosemary sprigs (and other herbs if using) and garlic.  Let them sizzle until fragrant for a couple of minutes, turning down the heat if they start to brown.  

Add the celeriac to the skillet, arranging it in a single layer.  There should be some space between pieces, so you might have to work in batches or get another pan going (if you try to crowd the pan it might steam rather than brown, and that's not what you want)  Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the celeriac is soft and golden brown on all (or most) sides, turning the pieces occasionally.  When the rosemary and garlic get brown, remove them from the pan.  

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the minced rosemary, stir to combine, and serve.  

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