NEW YORK CITY — Root vegetables are a great way to eat seasonally as the chill of winter falls over the city.
From carrots to turnips and parsnips, they can be roasted or put into stews and soups.
And while they often play a supporting role, adding hearty body to a dish or acting as an accompaniment for meat and fish, this preparation makes the humble vegetables the star.
Celery root (or celeriac), an ugly-looking, dirt-caked bulb that often languishes in the back of store shelves, is lesser known among the bunch.
Just pick up a couple of these babies, which are packed with nutrients including Vitamin K and fiber, and you'll see why you can't judge a book by its cover. Wash off the grime, slice into it and you'll never forget that aroma — earthy and fresh.
I remember tasting it for the first time in a restaurant as a kid and have been trying to capture that taste over the years.
In this interpretation, the grated root is paired with an apple cider vinegar dijonnaise, studded with parsley for color.
It pairs perfectly with a garlic and sage pan-seared pork chop, which is finished off with a delicious, quick sauce made from hard cider. The sweetness of the apple and smokiness of the pork compliment the rich tang of the celeriac.
Wash the whole meal down with some hard cider — something tart like Woodchuck's Granny Smith, works nicely.
4 boneless pork chops (about 6 ounces each) and 3/4 in. thick (bone-in works fine too)
1 celery root bulb
1 tbs. dijon mustard
2 tbs. mayonnaise (low-fat if you want to save some calories)
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tbs. apple cider (or juice)
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 tbs. fresh chopped parsley
2 cloves of garlic, whole, crushed with a knife
Fresh sage (6-7 leaves)
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. brandy
1 tbs. neutral oil (such as grapeseed)
Six-pack of hard cider (you need some extra to wash it down)
Salt and pepper
1. Thoroughly wash the celery root and allow to dry. Peel off the outside using a vegetable peeler and a paring knife for the oddly shaped parts.
2. Cut into quarters and coarsely grate with a box grater (using the side with the larger openings). Put the grated celery root into a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and mayonnaise and whisk in the apple cider vinegar and apple cider until the mixture is smooth. Add the celery seed and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Combine the dijonnaise with the celery root and taste for seasoning. Cover and set aside to marinate in the fridge (about 20 minutes, but the longer the better), mixing every once in a while.
5. Heat the oven to 400° and put a large pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
6. Season chops with salt and pepper.
7. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of neutral oil and swirl in the pan to coat.
8. Sear chops on first side, about five minutes. Turn and begin searing on the other side.
9. Add garlic cloves and sage leaves to pan and baste the chops with the oil, about three more minutes.
10. Roast in the oven about 10 minutes more. Chops should feel firm, but not stiff to the touch.
11. Place the chops on a plate and allow to rest along with the crisp sage leaves and garlic.
12. Deglaze the pan on the stovetop (over medium high heat) with brandy and half a bottle of hard cider, scraping up the brown bits. Reduce the mixture to a syrup.
13. Reduce the heat to medium low and then whisk in a tablespoon of butter.
14. Slice pork chop on a diagonal through the center and place on the plate with a portion of celery root. Drizzle sauce around the chop and dig in.