Sat, 4 October, 2014
A side dish featuring celeriac, that brute that is so hard to peel, this time not mashed or pureed. Fondant celeriac - who knew this boring vegetable could be so elegant?
What is 'fondant' when it's not chocolate?
Fondant, unless we are referring to chocolate, is an exercise usually applied to potatoes. The method means basically cooking something in an emulsion of fat and liquid. The potatoes, awfully fancy and wastefully carved into little barrel shapes sit in a single layer in a pan.
They are browned in fat then drowned in hot liquid: stock, wine or water and cooked energetically under cover until the liquid is almost absorbed. The result is excellent, the spuds soft but not falling apart – that’s unless you’ve used floury potatoes which is a big no-no.
Celeriac can be fondant too
Here though we are not talking potatoes but celeriac. That brute which looks so unappealing and has skin thick like armour. It does occasionally get its five minutes in the sun made into vegan steaks or baked in a salty crust by top chefs.
It does suit the fondant treatment really well, because it doesn’t fall apart though softens reasonably easily. It’s also a good canvas for herbs and a handful of raisins.
Fondant cooking technique
The very orthodox fondant cooking technique includes a disc of parchment to cover the vegetables in the pan, once browned and soused with liquid. That disc is called cartouche – it prevents the contents from jumping up, spitting and behaving unruly.
I do sometimes make an effort to cut a circle from baking paper and use it while cooking my celeriac fondant, but mainly to impress myself: phwoar, cartouche cooking skills!
But unless you want to be pretentious, the lid of the saucepan is completely sufficient. The celeriac, shaped nicely into even chunks, needs to be cooked in butter first until lightly browned, and then boiling water or stock is added to finish the cooking process.
And I totally recommend you try other vegetables: carrots, parsnips, beetroot, but perhaps not a mix as they need different cooking times.
fondant celeriacServings: 2Time: 30 minutes
- medium-sized celeriac, peeled and chunkily diced
- a few sprigs of tarragon, leaves stripped and chopped
- a small handful of raisins
- 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
- 2 tbsp.unsalted butter
- salt and black pepper
1. Place the celeriac in a pan with butter and the other ingredients, season well with salt and pepper.
2. Place over a relatively high heat so the butter melts and starts sizzling; cook for a few minutes turning occasionally until celeriac chunks brown lightly.
3. Pour in boiling water, just to cover the celeriac. Put the lid on and cook over high heat, watching that it doesn’t catch, adding some more water if it cooks off. It will be ready in about 15 minutes – test whether tender with a fork or the tip of a knife. Serve immediately.