Ugly Duckling

Posted By on November 11, 2010

We haven’t been doing a lot of cooking lately. For some reason, neither my husband or I have been very hungry this week—I attribute it at least in part to the oatmeal carmelitas that we keep snacking on. In any case, most of our dinners this week have just been eating up leftover posole, when we remember to eat at all. It doesn’t make for the most interesting blog posts, does it?

I had a celeriac that needed eating up, though, and I thought it might work well roasted with apples and onions under a whole chicken. If you aren’t familiar with it, celeriac is a relative of stalk celery that has been developed for its starchy and rather ugly root, which has a mild celery flavor and a texture similar to potatoes. I’ve cooked with it several times before, and I still think my favorite use for it is simply mashed into a bowl of potatoes for an interesting depth of flavor.

The recipe I adapted called for a rosemary-shallot marinade on chicken halves; I butterflied mine with the assistance of my powerful new shears, and rubbed the seasonings under the skin. It cooked skin-side down in my largest cast iron skillet for 25 minutes, with the celeriac, apple, and onion mixture piled on top, and then I flipped the whole shebang so that the chicken rested on the bed of vegetables skin-side up, long enough to cook through and attain a gorgeous crisp skin.

While the chicken rested, I made an apple cider reduction to accent the meal, and cooked the vegetables a bit more on the stovetop, spooning away as much excess fat as possible, and stirring a little Dijon mustard into the savory applesauce that had formed around the cubes of celeriac. The fact that the apples disintegrated was not really planned, but sort of expected since I was using Jonagolds—Fuji apples would probably be a better choice here. If I make a version of this recipe again, I’d also cut the celeriac cubes smaller, less than 1″ across, since the smaller ones cooked through and the larger ones were considerably underdone despite the extra cooking time. I thought the flavor was good at least, but Jeremy took a pass, and the next time I bring home this ugly duckling of a root vegetable, I’ll try to do it more justice for his sake.

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