Stuffed celery, that throwback party favorite, gets a little help from a cream cheese filling laced with crisp bacon and bacon fat. Each little log gets a smoky finish from a sprinkle of Espelette pepper.
To get the celery to lie flat on a platter without rolling over, use a vegetable peeler to peel a strip from the bottom of the stick.
To learn more, read "Poole's Gold."
Stuffed Celery Sticks with Bacon and Scallion Cream Cheese
Recipe adapted from Ashley Christensen, Poole's Diner, Raleigh, NC
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
¼ pound (about 4 slices) bacon
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 celery bunch, cut into 3-inch logs
⅓ cup celery leaves, chopped, for garnish
2 teaspoons Espelette pepper
1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°. On a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, arrange the bacon slices and bake, turning once, until crisp and browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the heat, reserving the rendered fat and allowing to cool. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, finely chop it and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, Dijon mustard, scallions, lemon zest, bacon and rendered bacon fat. Mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
3. Fill ¾ of each celery log with the cream cheese mixture. Garnish with the celery leaves and a pinch of Espelette pepper and serve.