Here we are again, with the French Friday recipe pushing my culinary boundaries, forcing me to try things I would otherwise avoid at all costs.

Celery root. Also known as celeriac. A relative of other root vegetables, it has a strong, distinct celery flavor, which comes as no surprise, given its name. It’s also an ugly little bugger.

Rabbit-sensei hanging out in the produce basket, with the celery root in her lap. It was almost as big as her and definitely weighed more.

Rabbit-sensei hanging out in the produce basket, with the celery root in her lap. It was almost as big as her and definitely weighed more.

I started seeing celery root in the local grocery store around Thanksgiving, and by that time, this recipe had become a December pick. When I actually shopped for it, there was none to be found. I was not troubled by this, because I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to try it. You see, I hate celery. For most people, it’s a mildly-flavored, low-key vegetable. For me, it’s one of the more disgusting things you can put into a dish. I have never liked celery, and I continue to hate it, possibly even more than I hate onions. At least onions can bring a bit of decent flavor (so long as you don’t eat them directly). Celery is just vile.

But, on Saturday, Geordie and I took an impromptu trip to the grocery store, and there they were: three lonely celery roots. I bought one, intending to halve the Dorie recipe. I would be serving the puree to my parents and brother, and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would go over with them.

I decided to make Dorie’s go-to beef daube, which the group made back in 2010. I had loved the carrot & macaroni daube so much that I wanted to give this one a try. And I knew it was something my family would appreciate.

I made the daube and puree on Sunday night. We’d spent much of the day shopping around town, so it was good to come home and make a nice, comforting meal like this. The celery root puree was easy enough to make while the daube braised it’s 2+ hours in the oven.

Peeling and chopping the celery root was a Herculean task. It did not go willingly.

Peeling and chopping the celery root was a Herculean task. It did not go willingly. I also chopped up two russet potatoes to go with it – more than Dorie suggests, but a decision I was happy with.

The celery root and potatoes were boiled in a bath of milk and water. I liked this approach, since no milk goes into the final product.

The celery root and potatoes were boiled in a bath of milk and water. I liked this approach, since no milk goes into the final product, so you still get some of the full flavor and creaminess.

Once cooked and drained, everything goes into a food processor (mine went in batches, as my processor is not so large), and it comes out smooth and creamy.

Once cooked and drained, everything goes into a food processor (mine went in batches, as my processor is not so large), and it comes out smooth and creamy.

And that’s it. Really, mine were mashed potatoes spiked with celery root. Which was probably for the best, because the celery root flavor was still quite strong.

Quite, quite strong.

Too strong for me, really.

Thank goodness for the beef daube.

Celery root puree and Dorie's go-to beef daube.

Celery root puree and Dorie’s go-to beef daube.

The beef daube was terrific, and it did wonders for masking the celery flavor in the puree. I could pretend they were just plain old mashed potatoes. I probably should have taken the time to thicken up the sauce a bit, as it was more juicy than saucy, but it tasted great as it was, and nobody complained. The meat was cooked perfectly, falling apart as soon as it met the fork. I think I might have liked the carrot & macaroni version better, but this one is definitely a keeper in its own right. Beef stews may not be my favorite things to eat, but beef daubes have a found a place in my heart.

And the celery root puree? Well, I don’t think it’ll be making another appearance on my table. The family liked it (Mom, Geordie, and Ryan all went back for seconds), but it’s definitely not my thing. Dorie may have been able to make cauliflower seem worth trying again, but the celery root was not so successful. It’s just not for me.

To see how the other Doristas felt about the celery root puree, check out the French Friday links. I may well be in the minority on this one!

Advertisements