The Frog Prince

"There once was an ugly duckling
  With feathers all stubby and brown"

Knobby, gnarly, warts and all - welcome celeriac,unknown and unloved like the ugly duckling, the unsung frog prince of winter vegetables. Pare off its warty exterior and you'll uncover the most royal of vegetables within: a perfect, ivory-fleshed, winter alternative to potatoes and other starches.Celeriac is a historic European favourite. The vegetable's most classic employment is in the cold French salad celerie remoulade, in which the root is peeled, grated, "cooked" in lemon juice (or blanched briefly in acidulated water) to lose a bit of its rawness, then dressed with a mustardy mayonnaise.Still not interested? Bear with,bear with. When peeled, the celery root's creamy white flesh resembles that of a turnip and tastes like a subtle blend of celery and parsley. Additionally, half a cup contains only 30 calories, no fat and provides an excellent source of dietary fiber.Now you like?

"All through the wintertime he hid himself away
Ashamed to show his face, afraid of what others might say
All through the winter in his lonely clump of wheat
Till the organic farmers spied him there and very soon agreed
You’re a very fine vegetable indeed!"
This time of year, celeriac can be a perfect non-starch substitute for potatoes in a warming meal, and can be prepared in a similar way. Mashed, shaped into batons and boiled, or even French fried, celery root can provide a winning accompaniment to a fresh green vegetable or salad and anything roasted or grilled.

Celeriac gives a whole new meaning to oven chips and with a dash of Marsala wine or with a  simple twist of curry powder  you´re lifting your side order to another level.As the celeriac roasts, it absorbs some of the raisiny flavour of the marsala (but not the alcohol, which just burns off), while caramelising to a golden, sticky brownness.Use a paring knife, rather than a peeler when peeling the root. Shave downwards with the blade in broad strokes to remove the thick skin.Once peeled, chop slice or shave bits from the celeriac and drop them into a bowl of acidulated water (water into which some lemon juice has been squeezed) immediately after cutting to prevent discoloration. Even if you are planning to fry or bake the celeriac later, parboiling it first for 5 or 10 minutes in acidulated water will soften its raw edge.When peeled and cooked, this ugly duckling vegetable will become a true culinary swan, as I recently found in this stunning and modern Portuguese take on celeriac by Rafael Pinto.

 Bochechas de porco confitadas com puré de batata e aipo

Confit of pork cheeks with mashed potato sauteed mushrooms and celeriac

  • 12un Bochechas de porco Pork Cheeks 12
  • 500g Banha de porco 500g Lard
  • 600g Batata 600g Potatoes
  • 250g Cabeça de aipo Head of celery 250g
  • 300g Cogumelos paris 300g Paris mushrooms 
  • 100g Chouriço 100g Chorizo
  • 100g Manteiga com sal 100g salted butter              
  •  qb sal salt to taste 
  • Clean pork cheeks of excess fat and season with salt,bay leaves,garlic and red wine.
  • Marinate pork for 4h Marinate for 4 hours
  •   Peel potatoes and head of celery
  •   Grate about 80g of celery finely and reserve
  • Place the lard in a pan on the heat and allow to melt 
  • Add the cheeks and cook over low heat until they fall apart when pressed with a fork (roughly 4 hours) Drain excess fat
  •   Saute potatoes in butter with the head of celery cut into small pieces
  •   Add enough water to cover potatoes and head of celery, add salt and cook till soft
  • Drain and mash the vegetables and rectify the seasoning
  • Cut the mushrooms into quarters and chop the sausage
  •   Sauté in olive oil seasoning with salt 
  • Saute the reserved celeriac and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil 
  • Plate up as suggested in the photograph above




  1. Celeriac is seriously underrated in England and I can't understand why. Gorgeous flavour and fabulous and versatile texture . . . my favourite combination is with blue cheese in soup - umami heaven!

  2. I have yet to try your celeriac and blue cheese soup
    recipe.Bear with.

    1. any chance of a shoulder of pork recipe soon ?

      kind regards

    2. will see what I can come up with over the next few weeks.Thank you for these kind of comments.I wish more people would respond in this way.It keeps me on my toes and gives me challenges which I love.Thank you


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