Celery Root Remoulade

If such a thing as Food Enemies existed celery would be at the top of our hit list. Cafe Drake finds the crunchy raw stalks absolutely dreadful in flavor and watery texture. A big surprise and dining revelation occurred years ago however when we sampled this classic French hors d'oeuvre at La Grenouille. At the time we chalked it up to too many lunchtime Bloody Bulls but discovered it's still a great hit with our mouths years later. This recipe is the best we've created although traditionally chopped chervil should be included in the remoulade; if you have it, use it by all means. And be sure to make this anyway even if you don't have tarragon growing on your windowsill. Sour dill pickles, finely minced, may be substituted for the cornichons should your refrigerator be woefully understocked.

Make the remoulade first: stir all together in a mixing bowl: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup creme fraiche (or substitute sour cream or even plain Greek yogurt), about 2 T. chopped cornichons, 2 T. rinsed capers, 2 t. or a drop more of Dijon mustard, 1 T. cider vinegar, 2 t. minced parsley, 2 t. minced chives and if you have it, healthy dashes of dried or fresh tarragon and chervil. Refrigerate for a couple of hours allowing flavors to blend. 

While your remoulade is chilling, take 1 large celery root and trim off top and bottom. Carefully, with a very sharp knife, remove the gnarled skin and discard. Chop the root in half - a cleaver is useful here - and slice as thinly as possible. Stack slices and cut into skinny matchsticks (see photo above). Toss with the remoulade and refrigerate all for at least 3 hours. Before serving check for salt and pepper if needed; a splash of lemon juice may also be added to brighten the flavors.


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