Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Celery Root with Melted Onions
Two nights ago my tongue, in a fit of sheer joy, did a back-flip and high-five'd a molar. What would make my tongue do such acrobatics, you ask? Celery root with melted onions is the culprit. The rather benign looking pile of soft, wilted looking stuff is the celery root with onions. This is another TK recipe from Ad Hoc and it is another home run. In traditional TK-style he breaks components down and then loads each step with maximum flavor. This dish needs cooked onions. You could a) simply saute them for about 5 minutes or b) sweat all the moisture out and then simmer them in butter with garlic, thyme, a bay leaf, and peppercorns for 30 minutes. Option A is a fine choice, but B will make you write your mom. (I am killing two birds with one stone, because my mom reads about it here...)
To melt your onions take about 4 cups of sliced onions that have been sliced from end to end, not cross-sectioned. (End to end cut onions hold their shape better when cooked.) Put them into a saute pan over medium heat, and without adding any oil, slowly cook them for about 15 minutes or so. You are removing moisture from the onions and concentrating their flavor at this point. The onions shouldn't really brown at all, but just soften up a bit. Next add in a bay leaf, two whole cloves of garlic that have been lightly crushed, a dozen peppercorns, and some sprigs of thyme. If you have cheesecloth on hand, and I never do, this would be a good time to wrap all that stuff in it. Fancy people call this a sachet. You don't need to wrap it up, but it saves time at the end when you are individually picking peppercorns out... Melt half a stick of butter (in cubes) into the pan, swirling as you do to keep it emulsified. Now the recipe calls for a parchment paper lid. TK has a huge crush on parchment paper lids, and I finally broke down and made one. It took 2 minutes and I think it really made an impact on the dish. I'm not going to describe how to make it, but just go ahead and Google it. It is as easy as falling down and I am sold on it now. The onions are going to gently cook away on medium low heat for the next half hour. Other than stirring every 10 minutes don't do anything else to the pan.
While your onions melt take your celery root (a.k.a. celeriac) peel it, quarter it lengthwise, and thinly slice it using a mandolin or your mad knife skills. (Mandolins are cheap an exceedingly useful. Go buy one. And some band-aids.) Get a pan hot over medium heat, once again no oil, and add the celeriac and let it sit for 10 minutes or so to soften. Then add in another bay leaf, crushed garlic cloves, more thyme, and some canola. Cook until completely soft, 10 minutes or so. Remember to keep the heat on the medium side. You aren't looking for color, but just to cook and soften your veg.
When your onions are sufficiently melted, mine browned a bit, and the celeriac softened drain them both on paper towels. Combine them in a pan to heat them together and add a cup or so of good chicken stock. This helps with the creamy factor.
I didn't make enough of this dish. I used one large celery root for four people and that was a bad decision. From now on, we use one large root per two people. We also had some delicious grilled asparagus and Arista pork chops (also an Ad Hoc number). The frenched pork chops are from DuBreton and the others from Windy Hill Farms.
When in doubt, eat pork.