Celeriac has a soft texture and celery taste for roasting, braising, frying, and boiling. Underneath the unusual and rough exterior, it is an agile ingredient.
Celeriac requires commitment and time to grow outdoors. Growers will have laboured for eight to ten months to produce mature size crops for harvesting as a winter vegetable. Adventitious roots of the vegetable will be trimmed by the horticulturist during growth, which gives the vegetable its distinct exterior skin.
It’s texture and the taste is surprising. Carol Klein, in her Royal Horticultural Society book, Grow Your Own Veg, writes about celeriac, Apium graveolens, Beneath its slightly odd gnarled appearance lies delicious creamy, potato-like flesh with a subtle celery-like flavour. Well-grown, well-tended celeriac is quite a sight, and can easily rival a coconut in size.
Shopping for Celeriac
It’s not usual for a shopper in a greengrocer or supermarket to be first introduced to a film wrapped celeriac. This covering can be removed from it while it is stored in a cool dark place where cooks would keep their potatoes, parsnips, and carrots.
When looking at recipes for cooking it, a cook should consider the average-sized celeriac weighs 1 kg. Once the outer skin is removed, there remains a sizable amount of celeriac for roasting, braising, frying, and boiling in their recipe of choice. This celery soup is a great way to use it.
If the winter harvest brings an abundance of celeriac, then freezing of the vegetable is possible. It can be prepared for freezing by par-boiling 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes and wedges and cooling first.
Cooking it in Winter
Although delicate in its celery-like flavour and its potato-like texture, celeriac is robust enough as a winter vegetable to join strong meats and other winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, turnips with onions and mushrooms, and stock for braising in a slow cooker casserole.
Boiled in water for 15 to 20 minutes it can be as easily mashed with parsnips or with potato with perhaps Dijon mustard. The celery taste is subtle, and boiled celeriac can be combined with fruit and salad vegetables to make a hot or cold side salad dish.
Roasting it in the oven for 20 minutes with a light coating of quality olive oil will give a crisper coating to the soft potato-like cooked celeriac. Cooks could cut the peeled celeriac into chunky rectangles to form chunky alternative chips or into wedges for another roast side dish.
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