It’s Christmas later this week, and when you don’t eat meat, there’s always a question: what do you eat? What’s the centrepiece of your meal?
Growing up, it was always a turkey or a ham. In my younger days on my own, it was cornish game hen, and one time, a duck.
Over the past years since I’ve stopped eating meat again, I’ve mostly spend Christmas with friends or family, and that’s meant I mostly just eat everything else other than the turkey, and I’m 100% okay with that. This year, however, I’m likely to be eating alone.
Of course, you could always try one of the three or four “holiday roast” products available on the market. They’re mostly made of soy or seitan and are usually stuffed with some kind of stuffing so that they look like a turkey breast roulade. My experiences with these have been mostly disappointing (dry), though I’m told the Very Good Butchers do a good one.
So what does that leave? Some kind of centrepiece vegetable. A roasted cauliflower would probably do nicely. But sometime around American Thanksgiving, I was watching Jamie Oliver and he did a whole roasted celeriac.
I was curious. It certainly looks good; it has that showstopping look you want when you’re bringing it to the table.
Though clearly, if you are not a fan of celery, this is not for you.
I set about to try it, and completely veganize it while I was at it (Jamie’s recipe is vegetarian). The mushroom gravy is really, really good, and the roasted celeriac needs it, so don’t skip it. Jamie serves his with pearl barley, but honestly, I might just go a more traditional route and serve it with mashed potatoes or yams.
Be warned–just like your turkey which you have to start three days in advance, this takes time. Not three days, but it’s a big, tough vegetable, and it needs a full two hours in the oven. And like your turkey, your house will smell delicious and Christmassy before it is done.
Whole Roasted Celeriac with Mushroom Gravy
(recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver)
- 1 whole celeriac, about 1 kg or a little more
- fresh thyme
- 6 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 1-2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 cup chopped greens: kale or spinach
- Scrub the celeriac well with a brush to get any dirt out of all the nooks and crannies. Line an 8″ square pan with two overlapping sheets of aluminum foil and place the celeriac in the middle. Rub it all over with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bash up the garlic, and throw it into the foil packet with the thyme and 4 bay leaves. Top the celeriac with the miso paste and more olive oil, then wrap the entire thing up tight. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for two hours. If you like, you can peel back the foil 15 minutes before you take it out of the oven, to get some colour on the top. The sauce/gravy will take about 15 to minutes to make.
- Start by chopping the onion and mincing the final two cloves of garlic. Place a large pan over medium heat and heat up a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Slice the mushrooms and add them to the pan, adding additional olive oil if needed. Let them cook down about 5 minutes, then deglaze the pan with a little white wine. Add 1 cup of stock, the remaining bay leaves, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the whole thing to reduce for about 5-10 minutes, until thickened.
- Now add the coconut milk, the mustard and stir it in, as well as the greens. Allow the whole thing to cook down together for another few minutes, adding additional stock if it gets too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Remove the celeriac from the oven and place it on a pretty plate. Pour the gravy over top and around the celeriac. Slice the celeriac at the table and serve with the mushroom gravy.