Celeriac Gratin

A recipe made using what I anticipated wouldn’t be quite ideal ingredients, but which were in fact, very ideal. We ate this with steak cooked by Sam à la Julia Child (excellent method) and boiled cavolo nero finished with a touch of grated nutmeg and a little butter. I can only recommend it.  We loved it so much we are considering having it on Christmas day with baked ham.

Ingredients:

1 smallish celeriac

3 tablespoons of double cream

3 heaped tablespoons of cream cheese or mascarpone

a small punch of parsley, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, sliced thinly

60g of unsalted butter

a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard 

3 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs

3 heaped tablespoons of Gruyère or similar cheese, grated 

How to make:

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

Using a sharp knife, cut off all the gnarly outside skin off the celeriac.  Cut it into two blocks and then slice very finely using a mandolin or a sharp knife. 

In a small saucepan, melt the cream cheese into the cream on a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon, while its melting add 3/4 of the butter, the parsley, the mustard and the garlic clove. Allow it to all melt together and very gently bubble for a minute or two. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Using a little (but not all) of the remaining butter, grease a heavy frying pan that can go in the oven, or an oven dish – the dish should not be too big, so you can get enough layers of celeriac. Then begin making layers with the celeriac slices. After one layer, spoon over a few spoons of the cream mixture. Continue to do this after each layer. When you have used it all up. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the top, then the grated cheese. Then finish by adding a few dots of butter on to the top. 

Place in the oven with a small piece of foil loosely placed on top to protect it from catching for 20 minutes at 200C, then turn down to 180C for another 20 minutes. For the final 5 minutes, remove the foil. Check if it’s cooked by sticking in a sharp knife – it should glide in easily. If not, bake for a little longer until you’re happy. Let it sit for a good ten minutes before eating.

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