It’s winter, and that means the shelves are packed with root vegetables, so this year I’ve decided to make more use of celeriac. It’s a superb vegetable with the same slight hint of pepperiness as horseradish, but thankfully to a lesser extent, making it edible ‘as is’ and in quantity without it blowing the roof of your mouth off. It has been a favourite in restaurants for a couple of years now, often as a puree with beef, but it’s been making the transition to the kitchen at home of late and I’ve been enjoying using it enormously. I’ve been making a celeriac remoulade by cutting a raw celeriac julienne and mixing it with a dressing made of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. It’s a great side salad and goes really well with salad leaves in a ham and mustard sandwich.
But better still, use it in a gratin with other root vegetables, as in the following recipe which I came up with one night when fancying something different to potato with my sausages. The gratin is beautifully buttery, with a lovely light flavour that is enhanced by the sweetness of the shallots. It’s a perfect accompaniment not just for sausages but for rich beef stews and the like, and roasts of all kinds (though not game birds). It really is a lovely thing to make, and visually very pleasing too, letting the more artistic part and the usually contrary organisational part of the brain work in harmony together.
- ½ a good sized celeriac, skin removed
- 3 good sized parsnips, peeled
- 3-4 good sized potatoes, peeled
- 4 shallots, sliced thinly
- 50g butter
- 500ml chicken stock
Using a mandolin slice the celeriac, parsnips and potatoes into pieces about 1.5mm thick. Then butter an ovenproof ceramic dish with 10g of the butter and start to layer from one side of the dish to the other with the vegetables. To do this, first stand some slices of potato against one edge of the dish and then add 3 more rows of potato. Then do the same with the parsnip slices up against the potato, and then the celeriac. Repeat until you have filled the dish.
Then melt 15g of the butter and fry the shallots until soft. Spread them over the top of the gratin. Next pour over enough chicken stock to fill the dish about two-thirds to three quarters full.
Cover the dish with foil and cook for 45-50 minutes at 200°C. Then remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes. The top should now be golden and the veg cooked, with a skewer going through easily