Celery Root Fries
First, I’ll say this is kind of unfair. I don’t have a deep fryer, or a fry-daddy or even a deep fry thermometer – which I’ll say is absolutely necessary if you plan on deep frying anything. What I do have is a cast iron pan and peanut oil. Oh, and a stove that is electric (which I despise and will replace as soon as I can afford it) and wildly inaccurate. On my stove, especially using cast iron, high does not mean high. For some reason it has a really tough time regulating the heat of cast iron. It is constantly turning itself off and on to maintain whatever heat you have it set on, not trusting I think that I am perfectly capable of regulating the heat myself, given a steady source.
Nonetheless, I poured 16oz of peanut oil into my pan, set it on high and began to peel two lovely bulbs of celery root and two small sweet potatoes I had lolling about in a paper bag in the back of the fridge. When the oil was barely beginning to smoke I added the sweet potatoes and watched them dance. I figured if the oil was too hot they would bring it down to temp and if it was too cool I would just be ruining these slightly old sweet potatoes instead of the delicious celery root.
I also preheated my oven to 400 degrees, oiled a pan with peanut oil and tossed in one of the sliced roots. As they baked I removed the browned potatoes and let the oil rise in temp again until a slice of celery root immediately bubbled and popped in the oil. I then double fried them, meaning I fried them until they were soft, removed them to drain and then fried them again to crisp them.
Except, they didn’t quite become crisp. They browned nicely and tasted great, especially after a sprinkle of truffle salt, but never quite attained that crisp yet soft interior that I so love in potato fries. But then again, I did this without a deep fry thermometer and on a stove that is hard to regulate the temp, as it thinks its smarter than I am.
On the other hand my oven fries turned out great. They were brown and crisp on the outside – though they quickly softened just after sitting only minutes – and were delicious and creamy on the inside. The flavor was a little brighter and they were not as greasy. Even though my test was just a slight less than scientific I’m sold. It’s baked celery root fries for me from now on.
For this test I sliced them fry-sized, but in the past I’ve cut them more the size of home fries and that seems to do the trick. Bigger chunks allow them to cook slower and really get that creamy and fluffy center that I’m looking for. The smaller size works too, but became soft quickly. I love mixing big chunks of celery root in with potatoes, parsnips and radishes in a tasty roasted root vegetable mix. This is a great side with a rack of lamb or venison, the earthy taste of the roots mixing with the slight wild flavor of the meats.