Sunday, March 7, 2010
I kind of have a thing for ugly vegetables. Except turnips, it turns out. Not a huge fan, and that may be a first for me. A vegetable I actually don't much care for. So no turnips here, at least not today. But celery root, or celeriac as it's sometimes also called, for some reason always seems to make for delicious meals. I may have gotten lucky before with this soup (This Soup! If you haven't tried it yet, I suggest you put it immediately on the top of your to do list), or perhaps it's just this book. Because both recipes started life in Alfred Portale's Simple Pleasures, and both, for some reason, ended up being relatively photogenic in the end. So much for ugly vegetables. I guess AP was betting on people not being overly taken with the poor celery root, because he doesn't even include it in the recipe title. That doesn't seem right to me, so I've returned it to its rightful titular position. I've got you, celery root.
Oh, I also have a thing for vegetable medleys. I mean, what the heck else should I be calling them? These funny little side dishes that, in my life, tend to become entire meals. I was actually vetting this little number for a position as accompaniment for our Easter feast (which R and I are cooking this year at my grandmother's house), but in all honesty, I think it might have a little too much...Personality. Or something. Too much flavor? No, I mean, it just, well, it's a head turner. Maybe even a show-stealer. What I'm trying to say is that it's so flavorful that I think whatever is served along side will end up being the side. So a roast chicken might be a good idea, but less an Easter ham. Anyway.
It's getting kind of near the end of chestnut season. You might still find them, like I did. But then after roasting and shelling, you also might find that only, say, half are actually good. Honestly? The chestnuts weren't the main deal anyway. I might even prefer this recipe without them to begin with. That would certainly save your thumbs from the shucking. Stupid shucking. Such a pain. So forget the chestnuts, don't let their absence stand in the way of you and this perfect side-dish-meal.
Pan-Roasted Mushrooms, (Chestnuts - maybe), Pearl Onions and Celery Root
Adapted from Alfret Portale's Simple Pleasures
16 chestnuts, fresh, or the vacuum-packed kind. If you use the vacuum-packed kind, you can skip the roasting. Or you can skip the nuts altogether.
4 ounces slab bacon, diced
tablespoon olive oil
12 pearl onions, peeled
1 medium celery root, peeled and diced (need some help with peeling? See this post)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms (you can use white bell mushrooms, too) trimmed, and thickly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, passed through a press
a pat of unsalted butter
Flat-leaf parsley for garnish, chopped
To Roast the chestnuts:
Preheat the oven to 425. Slit an X in the flat side of each chestnuts and spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, shaking the sheet occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from the oven and let cook before you shell them. Once that chore is done, chop them and set aside.
For the rest:
In a large pan, fry the bacon in the olive oil until crispy and most of the fat has been rendered, coating the pan. About 6 minutes. Stir them while they cook so they don't stick and burn. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon, but keep in all of that wonderful grease. Drain the bacon on a paper towel while you do the rest.
Add the pearl onions and celery root and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring. Then add the mushrooms, and season with your salt and pepper. Sauté until they vegetables are just soft, about 4 minutes, then add the garlic for 1 minute. Add the bacon back in, then toss in the chestnuts, the pat of butter and the parsley. Toss until the butter is melted and everything is coated. Serve and enjoy!
* * *
And Now, a Public Service Announcement:
Also, you guys, I have to tell you something. So there's this new site, it's called Eat Your Books and it is Bomb. Seriously. It's a project that's pretty well underway to catalog the recipes out of practically every cookbook In The World and make them all searchable. So you know how easy it is to search for recipes in the Web (that's probably how you got here, isn't it? Isn't it?). Well now you can do it in your own cookbooks. I have Too Many cookbooks. Way too many. Too many, sometimes, to even use. But with Eat Your Books, I can search my own cookbook collection by recipe title, according to the ingredient that I want to use (that's how I found this recipe in the first place, by searching for "pearl onions"), by author or whatever. The site doesn't have actual recipes, it doesn't need them. You have them already in your own books. What it does do is make your books Infinitely easier to use. And you know I wouldn't tell you about it if I didn't love it myself. You should try it. You'll love it, too.