Michael Anthony has never met a vegetable he didn't like. The chef spent four years at the ultimate farm-to-table restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, before taking over at Gramercy Tavern in 2006. Now he obsessively seeks out the best produce, even if it means asking his farmer friends to grow it especially for him.
Anthony is a master of turning much-maligned vegetables like sunchokes and beets into creative, delicious dishes. This winter, the homely, earthy celery root is his unlikely star. His current menu features a duo of braised flatiron and sirloin steak paired with an unexpectedly delicious puree made from celery root and what Anthony calls "burnt milk."
The key to this innovative side dish, the chef says, is to reduce the milk until it begins to brown and caramelize, "like dulce de leche." The result is a creamy, deeply flavored stand-in for potatoes, an accompaniment that pairs equally well with pork, beef and poultry.
"Burnt" Celery Root Puree
Adapted from Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bulb celery root (aka celeriac), peeled and cut into large cubes
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups whole milk
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over low heat until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the celery root and cook for 3 minutes longer, making sure it doesn't brown. Add 3 cups of milk and simmer until the celery root is tender.
2. In another saucepan, bring the remaining 3 cups of milk to a simmer. Reduce the milk until it begins to caramelize and turn brown. Remove from the heat.
3. Transfer the celery root and both milks to a blender and blend until smooth (you may also use an immersion blender). Season with salt and serve.
Gramercy Tavern, 42 E. 20th St. (between Broadway and Park Ave. South); 212-477-0777 or gramercytavern.com