celeriac steak with sweet potato chips
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Vegetarian steak and chips, vegan with a tweak, and it’s not made with soy meat substitute. Roasted slices of celeriac root with oven roasted sweet potato chips beat those meatless meat alternatives by a mile.
Let’s make things clear: I’m not a vegetarian, let alone vegan. I wholly approve of refusals to eat meat on ethical grounds if you so choose, and I try to eat only organic and free range animals as much as I can. I do not approve of veganism which I consider extreme, overblown and irate. Milking or laying eggs doesn’t harm animals if, again, they live in humane conditions. I’m ready to protest against battery farms, but not at all keen on letting all the pigs perish at large.
I don’t think much of the various meat substitutes. Any food substitute is only ever that: ersatz, fake, mock, pretend. I’d rather not eat cake at all than cake with no sugar. I’d rather not eat cheese than tell myself the LactoFree concoction of soy, agar, cashews and tapioca tastes just like ripe Parmegiano Reggiano. Tofu is all right but you can season it fantastically yourself when adding to stir fries and such; looking for tofu sausages and burgers is admitting you’re bored of your meatless diet. Plus the fact that those products are processed to oblivion makes them highly questionable healthwise; think salt, think sugar.
I have a good friend, veggie of more years than she’d care for me to admit, who simply chooses to omit meat-related dishes from her fare. She eats tonnes of vegetables, more pasta that you’d think possible, bread and omelettes and rice. She never resorts to Quorns or Tofurky (WTF?); she just does what she chose to do all those years ago: go without. I respect her boundlessly.
So what’s the thing with celeriac steak, you may ask? Simply, I wanted to take a plant based ingredient, little processed, free from animal protein and cook it into a nice dish. Celeriac came to my mind on the wave of the current trend – naturally – for the vegetable baked whole or salt baked served in fancy restaurants. I thought it would play well sliced, and it does; and I thought roasting it would be better than frying (plants = healthy; fried plants = not healthy).
Without question, it’s delicious, my ‘steak’ with ‘chips’. Mushrooms add texture and protein and anyway you can’t possibly have steak, or even ‘steak’ without mushrooms. I enjoyed it hugely. Now get me some pork scratchings.
celeriac steak with sweet potato chipsServings: 4Time: 1 hour
- 1 large celeriac
- 2-3 large sweet potatoes
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter (omit for vegan version)
- salt and black pepper
- For the spice mix:
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- For the mushrooms:
- 150g chestnut button mushrooms, shiitake or a mix, sliced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp butter (omit for vegan version)
- 2 tbsp. cream (or coconut cream)
- ½ tsp chilli paste
- 1 tsp miso paste
1. Trim the celeriac’s bottom and top, especially the gnarly roots at the top. Use a peeler to peel the skin from the sides. Slice horizontally into 2cm/¾ inch rounds; a big sharp kitchen knife or a small serrated one will work. There will be a hole in the middle of the bulb – there always is, that’s the celeriac’s nature.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1cm/½ in thick slices. Soak both vegetables in cold water while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. Melt the butter and mix it with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Grind the spice mix in mortar and pestle to combine the flavours. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas 8.
5. Drain the celeriac and potato slices and dry them with paper towels. Arrange them on a large baking tray in a single layer (use two trays and swap them around in the oven whilst baking if one isn’t enough). Brush all the slices with the butter-oil mix on both sides. Sprinkle the celeriac slices liberally with the spice mix, on both sides.
6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes in top half of the oven, turning over all the slices once halfway through, until browned and crisp to your liking.
7. In the meantime heat up the oil and butter for the mushrooms in a small frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5-7 minutes until browned. Stir the chilli and miso paste into the cream and pour over the mushrooms. Turn down the heat and cook stirring until the cream is absorbed.
8. Serve the celeriac steaks topped with a pile of mushrooms, with the potato chips on the side.