Celeriac and smoked eel work very well together, and I’ve posted recipes using them before. This time, I added hazelnuts to the mix and created a restaurant style appetizer. The celeriac is prepared in three ways: as a very smooth creamy puree, smoked cubes, and as a crispy chip. The smoked eel is used to fill ravioli. This isn’t a pasta dish, as the dish only includes two ravioli. The dish has a very limited number of ingredients, but it is elegant and sophisticated all the same.
I cooked the celeriac sous-vide, but you could also steam or boil it. You do need to own some kind of smoker to smoke the celeriac. I used a very simple stovetop smoker, and if you don’t have a smoker I recommend you get one as they are cheap and you can get very nice results with minimal effort.
Here’s what I did…
For 6 servings as an appetizer
100 grams (3.5 oz) smoked eel
1 Tbsp minced celery leaf
90 ml (6 Tbsp) cream, divided
fresh pasta dough from 1 egg and 100 grams (2/3 cup) of Italian 00 flour
celery salt (or regular salt) and freshly ground white pepper
60 grams (6 Tbsp) hazelnuts, peeled
neutral oil (I used rapeseed oil)
2 Tbsp smoking dust
Peel the celeriac. Cut out 12 cubes, trying to make them as regular as you can, of 2 to 3 cm (1 inch). Also cut out 6 very thin slices using a mandolin. Reserve all the trimmings and remaining celeriac for the puree.
To cook the celeriac sous-vide, vacuum seal the celeriac cubes and the celeriac trimmings, and then cook sous-vide for 90 minutes at 84C/183F.
Alternatively, steam the celeriac until tender. The celeriac cubes should not be overcooked as it is important they keep their shape.
I also vacuum sealed the slices to prevent them from turning brown. You could also rub them with the cut side of half a lemon.
In a blender combine the eel and minced celery leaf with 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of cream to make the filling for the ravioli.
Blend to obtain a puree. Taste and adjust the seasoning with celery salt and freshly ground white pepper, taking care not to over season as smoked eel is already quite salty. On the other hand, remember that ravioli filling should always be seasoned slightly more than you think.
Make fresh pasta dough, roll it out as thin as possible, and use a pastry cutter (or a glass) to cut out 24 circles of about 8 cm (3″) in diameter.
Put dollops of the eel filling on the center of 12 of those circles, dividing the filling among them.
Make round ravioli by putting the other 12 circles on top of the filling, and carefully closing the sides by pinching with your fingers. Try to avoid trapping any air into the ravioli. For more information about ravioli making, click here.
Take the celeriac out of the sous-vide after 90 minutes of cooking.
Put the celeriac trimmings in the blender with 60 ml (4 Tbsp or 1/4 cup) of cream, celery salt, and freshly ground white pepper.
Process until smooth. If you don’t have a powerful blender like a Vitamix, you may need to use a foodmill to obtain a puree that is completely smooth.
Roughly chop the hazelnuts and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 180C/350F or until golden.
Pat the celeriac cubes dry with paper towels.
Toss them with a bit of neutral oil in a bowl.
Set up a tabletop smoker with 2 tablespoons of smoking dust, and smoke the celeriac cubes for 15 minutes.
After smoking, season them with celery salt.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the ravioli, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Shallow fry the celeriac chips in neutral oil until golden and crispy…
…then allow them to drain on paper towels. Season with celery salt.
Arrange celery puree, eel ravioli, smoked celeriac, celeriac crisps, and the hazelnuts on preheated plates, and serve.
We enjoyed this with an oaked Friulano from Friuli. An oaked Sauvignon Blanc (also known as Fumé Blanc, or oaked Sancerre or oaked Pouilly-Fumé) could also work. The oak works well with the smoke, and the vegetal notes of the wine go well with the celeriac.
Lamb loin fillets can be pounded into scaloppine just like veal, which makes them very quick and easy to cook. In this version I served lamb scaloppine with a balsamic sauce and roasted eggplant.