A long time ago, in Paris, Ixta had a steak with Café de Paris sauce and thought she’d died and gone to butter heaven. This single memory, etched in her mind since childhood, formed the basis on which we relied when creating this dish, plus a bunch of conflicting versions published over the years that had a stab at cracking the secret recipe. Whether our version gets us anywhere near the original we will probably never know, but it certainly delivers in turning celery root seriously meaty, only without the meat, and making it the perfect alternative to a Sunday roast (serve it along with iceberg wedges with smoky eggplant cream and oven fries with curry leaf mayonnaise).
Don’t worry about the sauce splitting; it’s supposed to.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/170°C fan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pierce the celery root with a fork all over about forty times and place on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and salt, then rub the celery root generously with the oil mixture. Roast for a minimum of 2¼ hours, or up to 2¾ hours, depending on the size of your celery root, basting with oil every 20 minutes or so, until the celery root is deeply browned, soft all the way through, and oozes a celery root caramel.
- Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut into either wedges or steaks (depending on the recipe you are going to make; brushing each cut side with the oil and caramel left on the baking sheet (you may need to add a little more oil if there isn’t enough to coat the cut sides).
- For the sauce: In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine the butter, shallot, garlic, anchovies, mustard powder, curry powder, cayenne, and salt. Cook for about 6 minutes, swirling the pan, until the shallot has softened and the butter has melted and become golden and caramelized. Add the capers, all the herbs, and a very generous grind of black pepper and continue to cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- Turn the oven to the highest broil setting. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (make sure there is no overhanging parchment that could burn). Place the roasted celery root steaks, spaced apart, on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure they’ve been brushed with their cooking oil and caramel (if not, brush with some olive oil and a little maple syrup or honey; see page 54). Broil on the top rack of the oven until they are golden brown on top, 6–8 minutes. Turn off the oven, keeping the baking sheet warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve.
- Return the sauce to medium heat and cook gently for 1 minute, then add the cream and lemon juice. Swirl for another 2 minutes or until warm, but don’t mix it too much—you want the sauce to be split, not emulsified.
- Pour the sauce onto a large platter with a lip and arrange the celery root steaks on top (or plate individually with some sauce poured on top and the rest served alongside). Sprinkle the steaks with a little salt and black pepper and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi Flavor by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage copyright © 2020. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Jonathan Lovekin, except page 211 © Louise Hagger. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Nishant Choksi. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.