A few weeks back in our Weekend Cook and Tell feature we wrote about the unsung heroes of your kitchen, the ingredients that are the background players in your cooking that deserve a little respect of their own. As a team, celery, carrots, and onions make up a flavorful and fragrant mirepoix that is the backbone for so many braises, soups, and stews. But these are ingredients that truly deserve a solo spot on your dinner table.
Celery is seriously underappreciated—the wallflower of the vegetable world. Save for crudités or the unfortunately named ants on a log, when was the last time that you really stopped and thought about it? This recipe for Braised Celery Hearts from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl and John Willoughby gives the humble stalk a chance to really shine.
Browned in butter and braised with nothing more than a little stock, tender celery hearts are transformed. The braise becomes the fairy godmother to the celery's Cinderella. What was once a common staple in the produce aisle becomes alluring, intriguing, and even exotic.
I braised a few celery hearts to accompany my Braised Short Ribs with Dijon Mustard and all of my preconceptions vanished. Herbal, floral, bitter, and rich all at once—who knew that this modest vegetable possessed such an intense depth of flavor?
Win 'Gourmet Today'
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Gourmet Today to give away this week.
- 1 (1-pound) bag celery hearts
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought reduced sodium broth
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Leaving the celery ribs attached at base, peel strings from outer ribs of celery hearts with a vegetable peeler. Trim the ends and halve each heart lengthwise.
Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the celery hearts and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until pale golden on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add stock, salt, and pepper, bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered, until liquid is evaporated and celery is tender and golden, about 20 minutes.