If I’m honest with myself, the title of this has been chosen purely for the alliteration value. ‘Celestial’ may be a splash on the farcical side in relation to a root vegetable. But then again, Celeriac puree is a thing of divine wonder, so maybe I’m onto something!
It’s unrealistic my January will be ‘dry’. Unless of course we are talking about the glorious British weather, in which case it will be characteristically damp. No, my Janurary’s are rarely tainted with resolutions of clean eating, calorie controlled diets or total booze bans. I have however, made a resolution of sorts. To cook foods I often look at in the shop, stare blankly at, and then walk on by. In other words, I plan to overcome my phobias of using certain ingredients, as all too often, I base this on their unfortunate appearance. So, last night I got to work creating something with celeriac. A root vegetable that looks part turnip, part ood (Doctor Who reference, I’m sorry). I implore you to try this one for yourself, even if it’s just to make some puree. Divine wonder, I’m telling you.
It’s easy, delicious, and is a good seasonal variation of a classic dish.
For the celeriac elements:
¼ of a pack of butter
½ a pint of full fat milk
Olive oil (for roasting)
Thyme (fresh if possible)
4 Portobella Mushrooms
Handful of toasted, and roughly chopped hazelnuts (optional)
1 Baking tray
For the risotto:
1 pack of risotto rice
2 cloves of garlic
1 white onion
Glass of white wine
2.5 litres of hot veg stock
1 Large pan
1 Medium pan (for stock)
Start of by prepping the Celeriac.
Cut of the top and bottom (the bottom bit is the bit that looks like the ood). This helps peeling the vegetable, as you’ll now have a flat surface to work with.
Using a sharp knife, peel the celeriac.
Once peeled cut down the middle and place flat side down, so again you have a steady flat surface to work with.
With one half, chop into 1-2cm squared pieces (or there abouts – just nice bite-sized chunks), and place on a baking tray that is lined with foil. Season, drizzle with oil and sprinkle on some sprigs of thyme. With a utensil, or your hands, mix this all together, and then cover with foil. It’s good to cover the celeriac chunks with foil, as they take a while to roast, and may burn easily. Leave on 180 for about 30 mins, or until they are soft and cooked through. 5 minutes to the end I took the top layer of foil of, to give them a bit of colour.
In the same roasting tray you could also add portobello mushrooms if you wanted them as a garnish. I put them in their own foil cocoon though.
With the other half, also cut into chunks.
In a pan put your butter.
You can simply melt the butter and then add the chunks of celeriac and season. Do this on a mid-high heat, ensuring the butter or celeriac doesn’t burn of course, but that they do get some colour.
If you are feeling fancy, you can melt the butter, but then turn the heat up (before you add the celeriac), to create a buerre noisette. Here you are simply browning the butter too add some more nutty flavours to the butter. Keep the butter on a high heat, ensure it doesn’t burn, then once it has gone a deep golden brown colour, add the celeriac chunks and season.
Buerre Noisette or not, once the celeriac is in, cook it in the pan till all the chunks are gorgeous and golden. This should take about 15mins. Remember to stir it as well, so they don’t catch at the bottom.
Once the celeriac is golden and caramelised in the pan, turn the heat right down and add the milk. You only need to add enough milk to cover the veg. For me this was about ½ a pint, but this will alter on the size of your pan. Then, staying on a low heat, gently cook the celeriac through. Once the chunks are soft (15 odd mins), it is done and you can turn off the heat. As this is the pureed celeriac, ensure they are pretty soft, as your about to blitz them in a blender.
Drain the celeriac chunks but REMEMBER to keep the milk that you cooked them in, so put a sieve/colander over a large bowl, and drain into that. Blend the cooked celeriac pieces in your food processor and season to taste. If the mixture is not smooth or too thick, add a little of the saved milk. Add this until the puree is a smooth consistency.
So your celeriac elements are done. Hallelujah. No, it might sound slightly laborious, but I can promise you it’s not.
Once these are done, you can crack on making your risotto. You just want to make a classic white risotto.
If of course you feel cooked-out, thin the puree out a little using more of the same cooking milk, and you have a banging soup. Top with roasted celeriac pieces and toasted nuts and seeds.
Start by softening the onion and garlic in your butter and a healthy glug or two of olive oil on a low heat.
Once softened, add the risotto rice and turn up the heat. You can also add a little more oil at this stage if the rice is sticking. Heat/ toast the rice for a few minutes, (it will begin to go translucent). Keep stirring!
Then add your wine and cook down a little to let the alcohol evaporate. Keep stirring!
Once done you can then begin by adding the stock. It’s best to keep the stock in pan on a low heat to keep it hot. Slowly ladle by ladle, add the stock to the rice, stir continuously.
Once the rice has absorbed the stock, add more. Keep stirring!
Keep doing this until the rice is al dente (cooked, but still has a bite to it).
When at this stage, you can add the celeriac puree in the mixture, as well as 2 handfuls of parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and add more butter or cheese if you wish here, but the celeriac makes it pretty creamy.
Ensure the rice is nicely cooked through (still slightly al dente), then serve.
I served mine with roasted celeriac pieces on top, roasted portobello mushrooms and toasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts for a little crunch.
Serve immediately, and with a bowl of grated parmesan for those who need an extra cheese hit (me) and rocket salad.