OK, so to be honest with you, this is not really a dauphinoise recipe. I cook in public view at the weekends, you see, and get asked a lot of questions. Bored with sounding like one of those pretentious restaurant menus that list every ingredient and spice used, especially with having to repeat myself twenty times a day, I have developed this system of picking a familiar recipe that resembles what I'm making and go with that.

To be more accurate, then, below is a recipe for celeriac with braised onions and mushrooms in a spiced cream sauce:

  • 2 large celeriac roots
  • 2 large white onions
  • 250gr white button mushrooms (or any mushrooms you like really)
  • 500ml double cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 250gr salted butter
  • 1 good handful fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  1. Peel the celeriac roots, cut into large wedges and parboil in salted water. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. Slice the onions thinly, but don't chop. Heat a goodly knob of butter in a heavy pan until the butter is sizzling. Throw in the onions, stir and reduce the heat.
  3. Peel the mushrooms if using white buttons, then slice to a medium thickness. When the onions are just beginning to turn glassy, toss in the mushrooms and stir well to make sure they are well coated with hot butter - add more if necessary. Leave them for about a minute to seal, then add half a spoonful of salt. This will make the vegetables release their juices. Simmer on a medium heat until liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the cool celeriac chunks into thin slices. Add them to the pan, stir well but gently in order not to break them, then distribute them equally around the pan and leave to simmer for a minute or so longer. Drop spoonful-sized knobs of butter around the pan to melt while the vegetables are cooking.
  5. When the heat in the pan has risen again and it's bubbling away nicely, pour in the cream and milk. Add a spoonful of freshly ground pepper, cloves and nutmeg. (The nutmeg is very important here as it adds sharpness and couneracts the dull heaviness of the cream, but if you dislike it you can substitute it with the tiniest splash of white wine vinegar just before you take the pan off the heat.) Give the pan one good stir, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer.
  6. Keep watching the pan. As the liquid reduces, if some vegetables become exposed, baste them with cream from other areas of the pan. When there is about two thirds as much cream as there had been and the sauce is thick and beginning to develop a filmy crust, add some freshly chopped parsley and take off the heat.
Serve immediately with light meat or chicken; I haven't tried it yet but I imagine this dish would go especially well with fish. It can also make a vegetarian main event, with crusty bread, salad and white wine or light beer. Enjoy!

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