Tender and meaty with a concentrated celery flavor, slow-roasted vegetarian steaks basted with butter, garlic and herbs is one of the most creative things you can make with celeriac. This is an elegant way to honor root vegetables, but also allows chefs to skip peeling celery root and serve it at a higher price.
A Chef Recipe for Celery Root
Celery root steaks were popularized by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, but chefs have been serving vegetables as a meat substitute for years in vegetarian and vegan recipes.
This technique was taught to me by a chef who worked for Charlie Trotter and Dan Barber, and I suspect one of them taught it to him. We would use the method on different root vegetables in the Winter.
Why it Works
Roasting celeriac whole wrapped in a pastry crust with herbs steams the root in its skin, concentrating the celery root taste. This is a very old technique, similar to cooking meat wrapped in clay.
Slow roasting saves on prep time as the celery root doesn't need to be peeled before cooking. People often ask me how to peel celery root, and they're surprised when I say it isn't always necessary. The outer skin becomes tender and adds a special contrast to the flesh.
How to Make Roasted Celeriac Steak
You make a simple dough, adding fresh herbs and salt. The whole knob celery is wrapped in the dough and baked in a slow oven until tender.
The crust is discarded and the root is cut into thick slices. When it's time to serve you cook the roots golden brown, basting with butter, garlic and herbs like a piece of meat.
What to Serve with Celeriac Steak
Serve with some kind of acidic, herby sauce or compound butter like Cafe de Paris. I used my ramp leaf salsa verde, made with basil, tarragon and an egg yolk. For simple home cooking, serve them with mashed potatoes and gravy or garlic-lemon aioli like celeriac remoulade.
In the Winter, I might serve them with a buttery puree of canned tomatoes. Celery root piccata with lemon caper sauce is good too. Like other recipes for vegetable steaks they pair well with mushrooms.
You can substitute parsnips in recipes like celery root soup. For steaks, you'll need to use other hard root vegetables like rutabagas or beets. If you can find some, parsley root is the best substitute for celery root's taste.
Whole Roasted Celeriac Steak
- Rolling Pin
- Large non-stick skillet or frying pan
- 1 large celery root about 1 lb
- 3 Tablespoons cold water
- 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup chopped herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil or light olive oil
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 medium shallot chopped
- Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
- In a stand mixer, combine the water and salt and stir to combine. Add the flour and herbs and mix with the paddle attachment until a soft dough forms. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Wash and roast the celeriac
- Inspect the celery root for any dirt, wash with warm water and dry. Most celery roots from the grocery store will be very clean.
- Roll the dough out into a thin sheet ¼ inch thick. Wrap the celery root in the dough, covering the entire surface. Patch any holes with extra dough.
- Put the celery root on a baking tray (or a cast iron skillet) and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat to 300 and cook for 2-2.5 hours, or until the root is tender when pierced with a cake tester.
Remove the pastry crust
- Remove the celery root from the oven, cool and remove the crust and discard. From here the celery root can be made ahead of time and reheated for a quick meal.
- Cut the celeriac into thick, 1 inch steaks.
- Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steaks lightly with salt and pepper and put steak in the pan. You can use a bacon press to help them brown evenly.
- Cook the steaks until golden brown on one side. When you flip them, add the butter, garlic, shallot and thyme. Baste the steaks with the melted, foaming butter for a few minutes until the house smells delicious. Remove the steaks to a warmed dish and serve with your choice of sauces and accompaniments.