Young Potato and Celery Root Gratin
I saw this recipe in the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit. Although the lead ingredient is potato, it’s the mixture of the celery root that really makes it shine. For those of you uninitiated to the wonder of this cousin to the celery, celery root is a bulbous, knotty, brown, unappealing root also known as celeriac, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery. It just goes to show you that you don’t have to be pretty to make it in the food world.
But really beauty is only skin deep isn’t it? And for celery root, the saying couldn’t be more true. Once peeled of its knotty exterior, celery root reveals a soft, beige flesh that is uniform and tender. A little less watery than jicama, and a little softer than a potato, celery root is wonderful roasted in strips for fries or creamed in a subtler version of cream of celery soup.
This recipe takes the traditional gratin and adds a subtle, delicious celery flavor to the cream and cheese filled bites. For an even richer and more complex taste, I substituted smoked gouda for half the cheese and cut back on the cream, instead mixing in a little left over turkey stock. I know, can you believe I already have turkey stock? A little left over from the recipe testing we’re doing to bring you a Full Circle Thanksgiving cook book!
But more on that later. So whether looking for a grating to spice up your Thanksgiving table, and incorporate some more local flavors, or just for a weeknight meal leading up to the big day, give this ugly root a try, you won’t be disappointed.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
- 1 sprig thyme plus 3 tsp. fresh thyme chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks, white and pale greens only,
- sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 pounds young red or Yukon potatoes, very thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 lb celery root, peeled, very thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 cup Gruyere
- 1 cup smoked Gouda
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°. In a small pan heat cream, stock, sprig of thyme and garlic until just beginning to bubble. Remove and set aside. In a large saute pan heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Gently saute until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Butter a 3-quart dish with remaining butter, then layer 1/3 potato and celery root, sprinkle with salt and pepper, thyme leaves, leeks, and cheese. Repeat two more times, making three layers. Pour over cream mixture, straining out thyme and garlic cloves.
- Cover tightly with foil, and set on a large rimmed baking sheet in case of any liquid boiling over. Bake for one hour. Remove foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let sit to cool for 5 minutes with foil loosely tented. Serve hot.