Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tasty Fall Side Dish - Why Celery Doesn't Have To Play Second Fiddle

Poor celery. It is delicious, versatile and makes so many things better. But it so often ends up play a supporting role instead of being the star of the show. It's a main ingredient in a good bread stuffing at Thanksgiving, but there are so many other flavors at play on that bountiful day, it often gets forgotten. So I thought I would whip up a dish that makes celery a star player. It's simple, easy and goes great with pork and chicken.

Not unexpectedly, you start with celery and onion. I used a shallot here because my husband likes the milder flavor. I'd say use about two stalks of celery person and judge how much onion by how much you like onion in a dish.

Dice them, but not too fine on the celery. It's the star of the show here.

I used fresh sage and thyme from my garden. But you could use dried if you like or even some poultry seasoning. Everyone has a jar of that stashed somewhere.

Chop it or cheat like me and use a small pair of scissors.

Pull the thyme off the stems and combine with the sage strips. So much pretty green and it smells divine.

Get a tablespoon or so of butter going in a skillet or sauce pan. The more celery and onion you use, the more butter you'll need.

Add the celery. I let it sautee a bit before I put in the shallots, but if you're using a larger onion, go ahead and put them in at the same time.

I add salt, pepper and just a sprinkle of brown sugar. If you don't like sweet, you can leave it out. If you're using poultry seasoning instead of fresh herbs, go easy on the pepper as most poultry seasoning aleady contains pepper.This is an easy one to taste as you go as all of the ingredients are safe to be eaten raw. If you are using dried herbs, add them now.

I add the shallots and let them soften with the celery in the beautiful butter.

After it starts to get soft, add the fresh herbs.Let that get nicely combined, but don't let it brown yet.

Then add chicken or vegetable broth. Or basically any broth you happen to like. A few good splashes, enough to cover however much celery and onion you have in the pan.  Now it's time to let it cook and allow the broth to cook into the celery.

This could take awhile, but let it all cook away and infuse the celery with buttery, brothy goodness.

Most of the liquid will be gone and the everything will start to brown slightly. Just don't let it burn.

Such pretty shades of green.

It pairs well with an autumnal supper like this. I made thyme and rosemary crusted pork tenderloin and roasted sweet potato, both topped with a maple butter and I thought the celery made a nice contrast to the sweetness and the softness of the other two components of the meal. My husband Tim even liked it and since it's a vegetable, that's a big deal. Enjoy.

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