Celeriac is one of the few local vegetables available here in winter, not counting stuff that comes out of a greenhouse. It is tasty and versatile, as you can eat it raw, as puree, steamed, or roasted. In this recipe I blanched the celeriac before briefly sautéing it in walnut oil. Roasting would also have worked. Celeriac and walnuts go well together, as in the famous Waldorf salad. And so I created this pasta dish with chicken, celeriac, and walnuts. To enhance the walnut flavor I used walnut oil instead of olive oil. To enhance the celery flavor I used celery salt (salt mixed with ground celery seed) instead of regular salt, and I cooked the pasta in the same water that was used to blanch the celeriac. This dish is quick and easy to make, as well as delicious. It took me less than half an hour to whip this up, including taking the photographs. Here’s what I did.
For 2 servings
400 grams (.9 lb) cleaned celeriac
250 grams (.55 lb) boneless and skinless chicken thigh meat
150 grams (.33 lb) penne pasta
celery salt (substitute with regular salt)
freshly ground black pepper
fresh celery leaves (substitute with flat leaf parsley)
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
flour for dusting
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the celeriac and cut it into batons that are about the size of the penne pasta.
When the water boils, add celery salt and the celeriac batons. Blanc the celeriac until tender but still firm to the bite, 5-10 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the chicken into pieces. Season the chicken with celery salt and freshly ground black pepper, and dust it with flour.
Heat 2 tablespoons walnut oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the chicken.
Cook over medium high heat until the chicken is golden on all sides. The chicken does not yet have to be cooked through.
Transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon (so most of the walnut oil will remain in the frying pan).
The carry-over heat will finish cooking the chicken.
Sterilize the spatula(s) that you used to cook the chicken in the boiling water, so you can keep using the same spatula without risk of salmonella poisoning (just a few seconds will do the trick).
Multitasking is an important quality in a chef. Don’t forget to watch the celeriac and take it out of the pot with a strainer as soon as it is tender but firm to the bite.
Drain the celeriac on kitchen paper and pat dry with more kitchen paper.
Add the pasta to the pot in which you have cooked the celeriac, and set the timer for the time indicated for al dente on the package.
Add a tablespoon of walnut oil to the frying pan in which you browned the chicken (there should still be about a tablespoon of oil left in the pan). Now add the dried celeriac and stir for a couple of minutes over high heat.
Add 12 walnuts, and stir for a minute.
Now add the chicken, and stir for a minute to warm it back up and to make sure it is cooked through.
If you timed everything perfectly, the pasta should now be ready. Drain it, but reserve a bit of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the celeriac, chicken, and walnuts. Add freshly grated parmigiano and about a tablespoon of minced celery leaves (or parsley). Add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water.
Toss everything over low heat, adding more cooking water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning with celery salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve the pasta on preheated plates, and drizzle with some more walnut oil.
Serve at once.
Carne Adovada is a great Mexican dish, and of course I couldn’t resist to prepare it sous-vide.