A fat brown parcel sat on the kitchen bench right next to a plump celeriac and a good sized lemon picked fresh from one of the pots on the verandah. Inside the package was Luke Mangan's latest cookbook, Salt grill - fine dining for the whole family. Turning to the index first, I was delighted to find three recipes using celeriac. At the time, I didn't have ingredients at hand to prepare the braised beef cheeks with chocolate, jalapeño and baked celeriac; nor the seared spiced tuna with celeriac and apple remoulade. However, I did have a couple of beef cattleman's cutlets ready for the grill, so I switched on the new oven and, within a few minutes, the well oiled, seasoned celeriac went in for a long, slow bake.
According to Mangan, 'Salt grill is all about sharing and many of the recipes are designed to be shared in ways that we in Australia have incorporated into our own way of eating. [I have made] sure that these recipes are, on the whole, home cook and kitchen friendly. You won't find anything molecular in here; this is a free roam book. Open the book on any page, and if you love to cook, you'll be able to cook the recipes you find here.'
Indeed, you almost don't need a recipe here, just a fresh celeriac or two, 60 mls good quality extra virgin olive oil, 50g good quality butter and a fresh lemon. Oh, and some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper of your choosing. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F/Gas mark 3). Wash each celeriac and pat them dry with paper towelling. Spread a large sheet of aluminium foil on a baking tray, place one celeriac onto the foil, brush generously with the oil, then season with the salt and pepper, and wrap the foil around the celeriac. Repeat if you are baking two. Bake for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the celeriac, until the inside is tender (test with a skewer). Cut the celeriac in half, scoop out the flesh with a large serving spoon into a warm bowl. Add the butter and juice of half a lemon. Mash with a fork until you have what Mangan describes as 'a nice crushed look'. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve. This will serve four.
Note, there is no need to peel the celeriac, baking in the flesh keeps it flavoursome and tender. Actually, the second time I made this, I allowed the celeriac to cool down, then wrapped it back up in foil, popped it into the fridge and reheated it quickly the following day, before mashing it. The results were still perfectly scrumptious!
Watch my Cook's Books pages for a full review of Luke Mangan's Salt grill, coming soon. It is a big, beautiful book and I know you will love it! Recipe road tested courtesy of Luke Mangan and Murdoch Books publicity department, with thanks.