Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Celery Root Hash

On Wednesday afternoons I cook and do childcare for a family in Oakland (they are all in this picture somewhere...and no, I didn't make the cake). When I first arrive I investigate the contents of their weekly produce box for inspiration. Then I look in the fridge and pantry for supplementary items. To accommodate a special diet, I am asked to cook without any starches including most grains and flours, potatoes, certain legumes and some other foods. I often make soups or curries usually with a base of chicken stock, vegetables and meat. This week there was chicken already cooked and lots of roots. Friends of the family had recently made a corned beef hash and I was asked if I could experiment with something like that. This is what I came up with and I must say, I think it’s a keeper!

I love Celery root and suggest you give it a try in this recipe, particularly if you have never had it before! Don't be alarmed by the roots gnarly appearance, it is easy to tackle. The texture is similar to that of a potato and it has a lovely earthy and herby celery like flavor. It is more mild than celery however, and for those of you who can not eat potato I fell it is the best substitute....besides sweet potato of course. To use the root, start by cutting off the straggling and small roots on the end and the top stem area. Then cut it down the center and peel each half. From there either grate it, as in this recipe, or cut it as you would a potato. You can also roast celery roots whole (skin and all), which is easy and delicious, be sure and clean off all of the dirt first.

For the chicken you can use meat left over from a roast chicken or meat from making stock and broth. If you are a vegetarian or do not have chicken on hand substitute potato, sweet potato, other grated vegetables, nuts or even grains for the chicken and make veggie patties!

From the Produce box I used, 1 medium sized celery root, 3 sprigs of green garlic, 2 celery stalks and 1 small fuji apple.

From the refrigerator I used, 1 pint of cooked chicken and 2 eggs (from the same farm as the produce!).

From the garden I used, three sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves!

Peel and grate the celery root and finely chop the green garlic into moons. Remove the leaves from three sprigs of rosemary, slice celery into thirds and finely chop, and core and finely chop the apple (include the skins). In a skillet, over medium high heat, sauté the grated celery root, green garlic and rosemary in 2 Tbs. of extra virgin olive oil. When the mixture is soft and partially cooked add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and add chopped celery and apple. Continue to cook until flavors are well blended and all is soft, then add two cups shredded, cooked chicken. Continue to cook for a bit and check for salt!

You can serve the hash as is, or you can form it into patties, which is what I did! To make patties, whisk together two fresh eggs. Allow the hash to cool slightly and then add it to the eggs and stir all ingredients together. Form into patties, using about a half a cup of hash in each and sauté in olive oil over medium heat. They should be golden brown on each side and cooked long enough so that they stay in tact when you flip them, about 5 minutes per side. Garnish with paprika and serve with fresh avocado slices and rosemary aioli (rosemary aioli recipe will be posted this week!).

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