This is a very minor experiment, more of a variation than a truly new recipe, but here goes. A couple of nights ago, I had a nice little steak perfect to be shared between the two of us, and some fingerling potatoes. But the only available green was a rather dispirited bunch of celery. After glaring at the pale green stalks for a while, I went in search of my Nigel Slater collection (most of it courtesy of Alison over the course of several birthdays and Christmases). A bit of rummaging yielded the inspiration I needed: BRAISE THEM.
Lightbulb moment. I turned to my other trusty ally in the kitchen wars: Clothilde Dusoulier, and her quirky little Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook. I have long been making her braised fennel recipe – why not do the same thing with celery?
I replaced her lime juice with white balsamic vinegar (ever since a friend of mine went to Modena and learned about Real Balsamic Vinegar, I have become terribly snobby about this substance), and omitted the rosemary, but otherwise, this is Clothilde at her best. I leave the quantities up to you, depending on how many mouths you have to feed.
White balsamic vinegar
Chop the stalks in half so they will fit into the pan. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the celery. Shuggle the skillet around from time to time so that the celery doesn’t stick, but otherwise, let the celery go limp and even brown a bit. This takes 5 to 10 minutes. Add the stock to cover and add a generous dash of the vinegar. Let the broth reduce until it is syrupy, by which time the celery are delicious.
As it happened, after putting the celery on the plate, I added the remaining liquid to the cognac-and-peppercorn reduction that I was creating after removing the steak from another skillet. Magic.