A Christmas feast for the more adventurous

I hope we are past the days of poor vegetarian and vegan offering in our restaurants, especially at Christmas – although we have to call them plant-based, as their other denominations seem to evoke such enmity and antagonism. . Plant-based, or herbal, as long as they don’t come out of a lab and bleed all over the table, that’s fine.

For those looking for a vegetarian or vegan alternative to turkey and ham on Christmas Day, look no further than a whole roasted celeriac. It will give you all the pleasure of a piece of roast meat, and you can even cut it at the table if you wish.

How to make roasted Christmas celery

This recipe can be done in two ways, or rather with two different marinades. One is based on Ireland and the other on Japan, but both have a similar result and taste. The Irish marinade is made with balsamic apple vinegar and apple syrup from Highbank Orchard in Kilkenny. Mix 100 ml of each with 50 ml of whiskey and bring to a boil to reduce a little. To this mixture, you can add fresh thyme, garlic, and spices, such as star anise.

The Japanese marinade is based on a teriyaki sauce. In a saucepan, combine 150 ml of sake, soy and mirin with any herbs or spices you like. Reduce until it looks like a light syrup.

Peel the celeriac (a large one should feed four to six as a main course, depending on what you serve it on the side). Brush the celeriac with the marinade, then place in a 180 degree oven and roast for an hour. Drizzle with marinade every 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven when you can insert a knife easily into the celeriac. Rest it for five minutes, then brush it with a little more marinade. Cut in six and season with cold-pressed rapeseed oil and Achill Island sea salt.

For those of you who eat turkey and ham, this celeriac is a wonderful side dish, too. It can also be made the night before and kept in the refrigerator overnight.

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