Saturday, December 06, 2008

The other root vegetable

I made some fantastic food last night. We had enough money that I could buy chicken and with my discovery of rasp (bagged bread crumbs) I could make proper fried chicken and sage pan gravy. Yummmmmmm!

Normally you eat this with mashed potatoes. But I have eaten A LOT of potatoes lately and there are other root vegetables out there that can be mashed and eaten.

One of them I've had in very fancy restaurants and I really really like. Celeriac. Or celery root for those who are normal people and not obsessed with root vegetables. I don't recall seeing it in the US, although I'm sure you can get it there. It looks like the brain of a vegetable man. Not exactly a shape to inspire confidence. It also has a very special taste that is not quite completely unlike celery. It does but it doesn't. I really can't be more specific than that.

It is absolutely the best vegetable to have mashed as a side dish for fried chicken with sage pan gravy. Sage pan gravy is the normal gravy that you make after frying chicken in a pan, but with a 3/4 tsp of crushed dried sage added to the flour. If you never knew what to do with the sage you bought to go with your parsley, rosemary, and thyme, now you do.

I didn't make the perfect celeriac mash. It was lumpy and watery. And still tasted so good it brought tears to my eyes. And I told my partner in life that I was the best damn cook in 5 time zones. He didn't argue. Too busy eating.

So here's what I did to make a less than perfect celeriac mash. Hopefully some day I will figure out how to do it a bit better, for aesthetic reasons, if nothing else.

A pound of celeriac per person is probably correct, as long as you know you all like celeriac. A normal sized head will feed two.
1) Put a pot of water on to boil. You want the water boiling when you throw in the celeriac. Salt the water if you like.
2) Peel the celeriac. You cannot do this with a vegetable peeler. You are going to have to take unbecoming slices with a large knife to remove the very bumpy skin from the celeriac. This is why you need a pound per person, after you peel celeriac there is not a pound per person left. Dirt will probably be everywhere. So rinse the cutting board, the knife and the celeriac.
3) Cut into 1 inch sized pieces. Or whatever size you want. Smaller means it boils through faster, but too small means it will disintegrate when you strain the water out.
4) Boil for 10 minutes or so. Just like you do with potatoes.
5) Drain. Possibly even wait a while. I think I didn't give it enough time to drain - celeriac is less starchy and more watery than potatoes. Celeriac needs it's drain time.
6) Mash with some olive oil. If you are have made gravy, do not add salt to your mash. If you ask your husband to do the mashing, he may at this point complain that it's bland. Tell him to suck it.
7) Serve with a salty gravy. Oh lord have mercy on my taste buds!!

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