Ingredient Introduction #47 – Celeriac

This one takes me back to my roots.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved celery and peanut butter. Make no mistake here. I’m talking about the sugary PB that’s named after green boys who chase their shadows, synonyms for seconds, and the way Dorothy made it down the Yellow Brick Road. The real stuff just doesn’t cut it. There’s something about the sugar and celery combo that make best friends.

I was always known to hit up the veggie trays at parties and dip the emerald stalks into a creamy sea of ranch.

And when I make cole slaw, I add celery seed.

It’s only natural that I’ve been rooting for the root that sits in a lonely bin in the grocery store.

20140208-120713.jpg
Celery root is a brown bulb that looks dirty and scraggly.

Usually The Fresh Market spruces it up by selling it with the bright green stalks still attached.

But get this. Celery root isn’t the root of the popular produce.

It’s also called celeriac, which to me, sounds like a some medicinal product.

20140208-120759.jpg
In Europe celery root is more popular than it is here. It’s actually a special variety of celery that’s grown specifically for its root. The stalks themselves are rarely used.

You prepare it the same way you would a <a href=”http://

20140208-121309.jpg“>rutabaga or jicama.

Slices off the ends.

20140208-120844.jpg
Then shave down the sides to get rid of the skin.

20140208-120919.jpg
You’re left with an ivory jagged cue ball that gives off a delicate scent of its namesake.

It can be roated, boiled, made into chips, and mashed. You can also use it aw, by cutting into match sticks and adding it to apple slices for salad.

I did the mash.

Most cooks will usually blend it with potatoes, but I wanted to stay true to the ingredient and let it shine.

Here’s what you need:
2 celery root, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
salt and pepper

Boil the celery root until you can easily pierce them with a knife, about 20 minutes.

20140208-120953.jpg
Drain, then add the cubes back to the hot pot. Add the butter and stir.

When the butter melts, add the apple sauce. Apples and celery play nice together. Here, the sweetness really pays off. Plus, it’s a healthier substitute for heavy cream.

20140208-121236.jpg
Mash it all together, then season with salt and pepper.

You can serve this as you would mashed potatoes.

To play off one of my favorite snacks… the one mentioned above… I served the celeriac mash with spiced peanut-crusted pork chops.

Here’s what you need:
4 boneless pork chops, the typical package you find in the grocery store
1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a food process, combine the peanuts, all the spices, and 2 good pinches of salt.

20140208-121028.jpg
Pulse until the peanuts break down into very small pebbles.

Rub a 9×13 baking pan with a little olive oil.

Then, dump the peanut mixture into a big bowl with a lid (or a big resealable bag). Add the pork chops and shake. You don’t have to coat the chops with anything. They should be moist when they come out of the package.

20140208-121115.jpg
Lay the chops into the baking dish, mound on some of the peanut mix, and roast 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

20140208-121202.jpg
These chops remind me of a Thai peanut bake I’d get in the grocery store. It was a little pouch of peanuts and spices. Delicious. But, like all supermarket packets, it’s loaded with preservatives and big words. My recipe gets rid of all that.

Heads up. If you don’t like peanuts or celery, you will not like this dish. That probably sounds obvious, but this isn’t something that’ll sneak by any kind of hatred you might have. My partner in cuisine crime disliked both of these creations as much as he dislikes peanuts and celery. Bummer.

II love all the spices on the pork chop. The peanuts come through nicely and give you a little crunch.

20140208-121309.jpg
The celeriac mash is comforting. It’s somewhat chunky, but it’s still manages to have a smoothness. You get a sweetness and butteriness at the front and then the bright bite of celery on the back end of the bite.

Celery root gives you Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, potassium, and iron.

Honestly, I liked the celery root mash, I didn’t love it. Maybe paired with potatoes it would mellow, but I still think the celery flavor is a bit too strong for a side dish.

Tip: If you’re going to try celeriac, commit to it. It’s not cheap. For two of them, I paid $12! The cashier even said, ‘That’s high!’ She also asked me what it was, so it was a teaching moment for me. Woo hoo!

Advertisements

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I know the key ingredient is celeriac but As I read the peanut crusted pork chops recipe my mouth was watering 🙂

    1. Woo hoo! A watering mouth is a good thing! Try the chops!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s