Saturday, January 16, 2010

Braised celery

Holidays are, for me, leftovers. And killing time playing games, which we did with Scrabble (see our masterpiece below, in which J and I again lost to our daughter). And I always have not only leftover turkey and potatoes and gravy, but also celery, which I overbuy for the dressing.

Celery takes more calories to chew than it provides to the body. It is calorie negative--or positive, depending on your point of view. So it is the perfect after-holiday leftover accompaniment. And it takes flavors marvelously. Julia has a lovely slow recipe for it (MAFC I p. 491), with a lot of butter. But this one has the butter optional and a lot of other lighter flavor enhancers. If you want more done (less crisp-tender) celery, cut it into half inch pieces or smaller, instead of the one-inch pieces here. Or microwave it (instructions below).

Serves 4

1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock (preferably homemade chicken stock--see this blog)
1 pound celery (slice off about two inches of the end, and reserve the leaves).
1 tablespoon Wondra
Salt & pepper to taste (be generous with the pepper)
Optional: One or more of the ingredients below:

  1. Heat the stock on high in a skillet large enough to hold the celery in a single layer.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and trim the celery, then slice into one-inch pieces.
  3. Add the celery to the skillet and stir to wet.
  4. Sprinkle the flour and salt and pepper over top.
  5. Cover and shake a bit, holding down the lid, till the flour is no longer visible (a glass top lid is helpful here, but it's really impossible to go wrong).
  6. Cook til the celery reaches the 'crunch' you like, shaking or stirring occasionally.
  7. Garnish with parsely and enjoy!
VARIATIONS: Add at the beginning (or adjust seasoning with at the end),
Olive oil
Garlic, chopped or minced
Onion, chopped or minced
Lemon juice--a few drops to brighten the taste
Vinegar: white wine, balsamic, or cider (again a few drops)
Coriander seed, crushed with the flat of a knife or a mortar and pestle.
White wine
Sage leaves (for a lovely late Fall aroma)

Microwave Instructions
  1. Mix celery slices, stock, salt, pepper, and any other ingredients in a plastic microwave safe bowl (or in a plastic bag, tied loosely, and set in such a bowl--to save cleanup).
  2. Cover and microwave on 'MAXIMUM', for 3 minutes.
  3. Stir or shake to mix well.
  4. Cover and microwave again 'MAXIMUM', for another 3 minutes
  5. Leave to rest for 2 minutes.
  6. Garnish with parsley.

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