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What is Celeriac – and What Do You Do with It?

 In Jamie Oliver's The Return of the Naked Chef he recommends the use of celery and celeriac. What is celeriac?

 You probably know it by some of its other catchy names: knob celery or turnip rooted celery.

Celeriac is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks. Indeed, you find it in the grocery store with its stalks lopped off or nearly lopped off, so that it looks like an ugly, organic satellite. Its flavor, which is assertive, is said to be a cross between traditional celery and parsley.

Celeriac has been one of the most commonly used vegetables in France for many decades, and has been growing in popularity in the US.

As Elizabeth Schneider almost giddily says in Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, "You can do anything with celeriac that you can do with turnips, and more!" [our emphasis]. It can be grated or shredded into a salad (long marinating is best), it can be blanched and used in a salad, it can be pureed in soups, and it can be braised with meat or, cut into matchstick size and blanched briefly, included in stuffing, where it is considered nothing short of magical.

Where it does not work, however, is cooked whole, overcooked even a bit (where it becomes mushy), or boiled or steamed, where Schneider says, those methods "accentuate its fibrous nature and flatten the taste." Who wants that?

The most well-known celeriac dish in France is Celeriac in Mustard Sauce, which is either made with cream or mayonnaise, depending on how traditional and how luxuriant you choose to be. The recipe we have selected uses cream, but you can certainly substitute mayonnaise.

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