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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Fern Chef Lets Natural Flavors Shine in Dishes

Celery Takes Center Stage


With a strong focus towards serving whole foods, Chef Drew Trepanier’s philosophy towards cooking has changed a lot since he came to Fern.  “My general approach to food used to be to show off the skills and techniques I had learned to make something that tasted nice but in no way represented the original source. Since coming to Fern though, I began to recognize that it was wrong to take all the beautiful farm fresh product we were getting and change it in to something unrecognizable.”

It’s true though, that we still play with our veggies a lot here; nowhere in nature will you find a turnip scallop or sweet potato pastrami. The secret lies in listening to your ingredients, finding out what they need to really shine and make their natural flavors explode. This, Chef Drew says, is what has really allowed Fern to produce better and more exciting food.

The recipe that follows is a great example of this approach, demonstrating how to elevate celery root to the star of the show.

Slow Roasted Whole Celery Root w/ Kale Jus and Almond Creme (serves 4)

4 ea       Whole Celery Root, Celery Stems Still Attached 5 ea       Whole Garlic Cloves 3 ea       Whole Shallots 10 ea    Thyme Sprigs 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter (or Earth Balance to keep it vegan)

1 tbsp   Olive Oil 1/4 cup Red Wine 1 cup    Vegetable Stock TT        Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Peel whole celery root with a pairing knife, removing all roots and trim the rough skin around the green stems while leaving them attached.

Soak the celery root in cold water with 2 tbsp kosher salt for 20 minutes, agitating occasionally to loosen any dirt or silt that may be remaining.

Drain from water and pat dry.

Warm an oven safe saute pan over medium high heat, add butter and olive oil and allow the butter to melt and brown slightly.

Add the celery root to the pan and beginning turning to sear on all sides. Add garlic, shallots, and thyme and continue turning the celery root.

Once the garlic, shallot, and thyme begin to brown begin basting the celery root with the now flavored butter (don›t worry if the aromatics burn slightly, they aren›t going to be eaten and are there to give flavor to the crust of the celery root.) Once the celery root is browned all over, season with salt and pepper, add the wine and stock and place in the oven.

Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour basting every 10 minutes or so(until the celery root is tender, test with a cake tester or pairing knife.)

Kale Jus 1/4 cup Kale Juice (around 3 bunches of kale) 1 tbsp Sorghum (light molasses or dark agave can be used also) TT        Salt and Pepper

Almond Creme 1 cup    Almond Milk, room temperature 1 tsp     Ground Fenugreek 1 tsp     Ground Coriander 1 tsp     Xantham Gum TT       Salt and Pepper

To Assemble

1/4 bunch Parsley

Drizzle plates with Kale Jus, then place celery off center and allow stems to fall in a half circle around the edge of the plate. Top with a spoonful of almond creme and garnish with finely sliced parsley, stems and all. The stems add a nice watery crunch with a burst of herbaciousness.


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