Celeriac and Pinenut Gratin
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Ingredients / Shopping List

1 celeriac

2 small onions

400ml milk

25g flour

30g butter or marg

20ml mayonnaise

Sea salt

Ground pepper

80g Red Leicester Cheese

50g pinenuts

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

 
Prep Time:   0:25
Cook Time:   0:25
Serves:   4

Prep to Cook:    Pan and lid, measuring jug, colander, serving dish, sauce pan, wooden spoon, dessertspoon, grater, chopping board, vegetable knife, French cooks knife

Prep:  Peel the celeriac, removing outer layer and chop into thick slices.

Dice the slices and put into the saucepan and cover with water.
Peel the onions and cut in half then cut into wedges and add to pan.
Boil for 12 – 15 minutes until the celeriac pieces are tender.
Remove and drain celeriac and onions through the colander
Place in the bottom of the serving dish
Prepare the sauce and topping:
Grate the Red Leicester cheese
Melt the butter or margarine in the sauce pan and add flour
Stir and cook for a few seconds and gradually add the milk
Beat the sauce between additions of milk to maintain a smooth consistency.
Once boiled remove the sauce from the hob and add half the grated cheese
Stir and allow the cheese to melt.  Also stir in the mayonnaise and seasoning.
Mix the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and pinenuts.
Pour the sauce over the celeriac and onion.
Sprinkle the cheese, pinenuts and breadcrumb mix over the top
Place in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes until golden.
 
Check it out !

Celeriac tastes quite unlike it looks.  It has a delicate flavour and light texture making a good substitute for potatoes.  A medium size celeriac serves 4 people. Celeriac is in season in the autumn and can be used raw to benefit from its crunchy texture, celery aroma and peppery flavour.

Cooks Know How:  This recipe requires a range of skills, peeling chopping boiling, sauce making, grating, mixing, topping and baking.

In this recipe the celeriac is boiled in order to soften its cellulose framework. Onion is also boiled and becomes soft for the same reason.  Each vegetable retains water and therefore draining is required to allow removal of as much moisture as possible before adding the sauce.
The sauce is prepared using the roux method.  Thickening is assured by the addition of the flour in the roux. During cooking, as the liquid is added and the temperature rises so the starch grains swell, begin to split and hold the milk as a thicker sauce.  Flavouring the sauce with cheese, mayonnaise and seasoning makes it tasty as well as increasing the nutritional value. Topping the dish with pinenuts, grated cheese and breadcrumbs creates a crunchy layer in contrast with the smooth sauce and vegetables below.  Serve this as a hearty snack with buttered toast or as an accompaniment to a roast or stew. 
 
Next Time

Substitute the celeriac with pumpkin later in the autumn months when they are in season and cheaper. Change the Red Leicester with another hard cheese such as Welsh Harlech cheese with either chilli, or one with horseradish and mustard seeds.

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