Baked celeriac and potatoes with honey, cinnamon and thyme
As we welcome the start of the cooler months, this recipe has appeared on the menu.
The combination of celeriac, potato and thyme just works. The other ingredient that works well, if you were to indulge, would be the inclusion of duck fat instead of butter in the recipe.
I don’t often use duck fat in cooking, but for others it has been a favourite cooking medium for years. The famed duck confit owes its tender goodness to the fact the duck leg is simmered in its own fat for hours, rendering it moist and delicious. The remaining duck fat keeps for months in the fridge and is a useful kitchen tool.
Rendered duck fat can now be purchased in some smart food stores. In fact if you bought a jar and used it over the cooler months whenever you roast potatoes, your cooking could only benefit. Duck fat roast potatoes, celeriac, carrots or most things cooked in duck fat are only good – although it is not advised to eat this way every day.
This potato cake of sorts is layered and slowly cooked. It can be pre-prepared and warmed later in wedges or as a large puck that can be sliced at the table. Cutting the whole thing into wedges and roasting in individual servings yields a crisp golden wedge.
Originally this recipe included Jerusalem artichokes and it can be easily adapted using one-third each potato, celeriac and Jerusalem artichoke. A true autumn vegetable, Jerusalem artichoke represents the season well. In addition to incorporating them into this cake, I also like to sauté them until caramelised. I take a few handfuls of Jerusalem artichokes and roughly peel them. I don’t mind if there are pieces of skin left on the artichokes – the skin has a great flavour. When washed and peeled, slice the artichokes into one-centimetre-thick slices and gently sauté. Warm a non-stick pan and cook over a gentle heat with a knob of butter. Add the slices and continue to turn them as they cook. After a few minutes they should start to caramelise. If not, up the heat a little. When golden they should be half-cooked. Add a little honey and some sprigs of thyme, turn down the heat and continue to cook for a few more minutes. When almost cooked add a pinch of cinnamon and salt to the pan. Pierce the Jerusalem artichokes with a small knife and if tender remove from the heat and serve immediately.
2016 Ocean Eight pinot gris, Mornington Peninsula ($35) – Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel
- 1 small celeriac, about 650g, peeled
- 1kg Dutch cream potatoes, peeled
- 100g butter
- 1 tsp honey
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- butter for greasing pan
- Cut the celeriac and potatoes into about two-millimetre-thick slices. This is easiest with a mandolin, but if using a knife, just slice the vegetables as thinly as you can.
- Melt together the butter and honey, and add the cinnamon and thyme leaves. Set aside.
- Toss the potato slices in the butter. Take out about one-third of the potatoes and keep them aside, then toss the celeriac slices in the bowl with the remaining potato slices and sprinkle with salt.
- Grease a five-centimetre-deep, 30-centimetre cast-iron frying pan with butter and cover the base with a circle of baking paper cut to fit.
- Using half of the reserved potato slices, layer them over the base of the frying pan in overlapping, concentric circles.
- Layer all the celeriac and potato slices into the pan and top them with the last of the reserved potato slices. Place a circle of baking paper over the potatoes and cover the pan with foil.
- Bake at 210ºC for 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 240ºC and uncover the pan for 15 minutes until the top has coloured and the excess moisture has evaporated.
- Let the dish cool for 10 minutes before loosening the edges with a spatula. Place a chopping board on top of the frying pan then pick up the frying pan and chopping board together and flip them, so that the frying pan can be lifted away, leaving the vegetable tart on the chopping board. Cut the cake into wedges. They can be served right away or reheated later, which also helps to crisp the edges.
- This is delicious accompanied by a sharply dressed salad of bitter greens and herbs.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 22, 2017 as "Wedge of tomorrow".
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