While not being particularly attractive, this large, bulbous, thuggish-looking vegetable offers an exciting addition to the winter arsenal of hearty produce. Celeriac is the root of the celery bulb and offers a deep celery-like flavour and perfume along with extreme versatility - even the skin and peelings make a wonderful vegetable stock which can make a great base for warming soups or broths.
A large, heavy celeriac that does not display bruises or blemishes is the one to look for. It should not be shrivelled or dry. Choose celeriac that is freshly harvested, so it will last for a few weeks.
Celeriac is a rugged root vegetable that keeps for two or three weeks. I recommend putting it in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. If you cut a large celeriac, wrap pieces in cling film to prevent drying.
I just love a hearty celeriac soup, particularly one cooked in duck fat and served with thyme-flavoured crème Chantilly. Another winter favourite is celeriac roasted with bacon pieces, chestnuts and rosemary to accompany a roast. Finely shaved celeriac, served with cabbage, is also a lovely addition to salads. When the local truffle season begins, celeriac and truffle is an extravagant but amazing dish to serve.
Spatchcocks are available at most supermarkets.
2 x 600g whole spatchcocks
4 slices prosciutto
2 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Place the spatchcocks on a roasting tray and wrap the prosciutto around the breasts.
Drizzle with olive oil and salt.
Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to rest before serving. While the spatchcocks are cooking, prepare celeriac by peeling and cutting into large chunks. Place in a saucepan and cover with water, add a good pinch of salt and cook over a medium heat until the celeriac is tender. Drain and mash the celeriac with the cream and butter and serve with halved spatchcocks.
Leave the meat on the bone or remove the breasts and legs from the carcass. Serve with a drizzle of homemade gravy.
Make a celeriac stock by boiling celeriac peelings in a litre of water with a few sprigs of thyme for 10 minutes; strain and use here instead of the chicken or vegetable stock.
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for mushrooms
4 sprigs thyme, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups diced celeriac
2 cups risotto rice
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cups mixed mushrooms , sliced
Heat a heavy-based saucepan over a moderate heat and add the oil, thyme, garlic and celeriac, stirring regularly until the celeriac begins to soften and the aroma intensifies. Add the rice, stir, then add the stock and cover.
Cook on a low heat for 12 minutes or until the stock is mostly absorbed and the rice is just cooked, then stir through a good pinch of salt, butter and cheese. Sauté the mushrooms in a little oil in a pan until golden brown.
Serve the risotto in warm bowls, topped with the mushrooms.