Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sweet Potato and Celeriac Casserole

“What is THAT?” inquired the lady behind me in the checkout line.  IT was my latest experiment… or at least one of the ingredients.  I was looking for something to put into a vegetable casserole of sorts. Something that would act like a potato, or perhaps a turnip.  Something I hadn’t tried yet.  I already knew that the dish would be topped with shredded sweet potatoes and have a base of onions, celery and... something else.  But, what?  Inspiration struck as I was browsing the produce section and about to reach for celery.  Lying next to it was its cousin, celery root (also known as celeriac).  It’s not exactly the most attractive vegetable in the produce section.  Regardless, I grabbed it hoping it would make a nice addition to my dish.

Sweet Potato and Celeriac Casserole
What you’ll need:
An oven preheated to 375
Skillet or frying pan
A 13x9 baking dish 

2 medium onions
1 large celery root and stems
2-3 sweet potatoes
6 slices of bacon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the stems from the celery root and cut them into half inch pieces.  Clean the bulb and remove the knobs and root strands with a knife.  Cut the celery root into half inch cubes.  Remove the skin and outer layer from the onion and… cut it into half inch pieces, as well.  Chop the bacon and brown it in a skillet.  Combine the celery root, stems, onions, bacon and bacon grease in your 13x9 baking dish. 

I have two ways of shredding my sweet potatoes.  If I only need a small potato for a quick hash or sauté, I’ll use a box grater and do it by hand.  For a recipe of this size, I use my food processor with its shredding blade.  I wash and dry the sweet potatoes, trimming any bad spots off of the surface, but I do not remove the skins.  After shredding the sweet potatoes, I thickly layer them across the top of the bacon and vegetables in the baking dish.  Drizzle the shredded sweet potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  Before removing the dish, I like to switch on the broiler for 2-3 minutes to crisp and brown the shreds on top. 

The dish you see above will be cut into 8 servings and paired with turkey that I roasted earlier this weekend.  Eight Tupperware containers will occupy the fridge this week, gradually being consumed by my wife and me as lunch.
Ladies and gentlemen, sweet potato and celeriac casserole.

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