Céleri Paysanne

Celery Braised in White Wine

The fresh flavor and the lightness of this dish make it one of my favorites. Served in individual dishes and sprinkled with cheese, it is a lovely first course, and as an accompaniment to lamb, pork, or chicken, it gives spirit to the meat. Make sure the celery you buy is as crisp as possible.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds celery (about 3 bunches)—do not use the tough outer stalks
  • 3 quarts salted water
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cup diced lean salt pork
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon (optional)

Method

Wash the celery, remove as many strings as possible, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Drop them into boiling water, add salt, and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the salt pork, garlic, onions, and carrots and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the celery,* bay leaves, wine, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, and then, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid has thickened. Remove the bay leaves and garlic and check the seasoning. You may wish to sprinkle the juice of a lemon on top of the celery before serving.

* If you want the dish to have a thicker consistency, you may put the coarser celery stalks through a Mouli food mill and stir the puree into the cooked vegetables.