13 May 2009

Celeriac-Apple-Potato Puree

Ever since cookbooks became bedside reading material for me, I've been reading about how hand blenders and electric beaters and food processors are anathema to mashed potatoes. Evidently, by whizzing them up with such a device, the glucose or something is released, and it results in heavy, sticky, "gluey" potatoes. At my first restaurant job, which was when I first came across this law of potatoes (because I swear, every cookbook published after 1999 makes reference to it; if you don't own a food mill, there is something wrong with you), I asked the sous chef what a potato ricer [which is basically the same thing as a food mill but handheld] was; the next day he brought me one. I've never been one to break rules, so the potato ricer has since been the device of choice when I mash any vegetable at my own home, but I've always wondered what said sticky potatoes taste like.

Well, I have tried this recipe two ways now, one with the food processor and one with the food mill, and finally, I know what these cookbook authors are talking about. The food processor potatoes were sticky and viscous, and the food mill ones had a lighter mouthfeel and were more delicate and precious in a way that Alice Waters might approve of. Though I will serve the food mill ones to people I want to impress, I secretly liked the gluey stuff. That version was more like dessert--apple-potato-celeriac dulce de leche or something.

(Apologies for the quarter-chicken sitting next to the mash.)

Celeriac-Apple-Potato puree

4 T butter, separated
1 head of celeriac (celery root), 1/2-inch dice (peeled!)
1 granny smith apple, 1/2 inch dice (peeled!)
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, 1/2-inch dice (peeled!)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c milk
squeeze of lemon

In medium skillet melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, and then add the celeriac, apples, potatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until it just begins to soften. Add the water (you could also use wine, or cider), cover, and cook for 25-40 minutes, stirring often, until everything is very soft. Add more liquid if it begins to burn. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or put it through a food mill and puree. Heat the cream, milk, and rest of the butter in a small saucepan. Return the potato-apple mixture to the original pan. When the cream/milk mixture is hot, stir it into the puree. Add lemon, taste for seasoning, serve hot.

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