Roasted Celery Root with Chilmole and Coconut Crema
by Jordana Rothman • In partnership with FOOD & WINE
For the Coconut Crema:
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon buttermilk
For the Chilmole Paste:
11⁄2 teaspoons allspice berries
11⁄2 teaspoons black peppercorns
11⁄2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon whole cloves
10 garlic cloves, skin on
2 cups árbol chiles, stemmed and seeded
8 ancho chiles, stemmed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the Chilmole Mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
For the Salsa Verde:
5 medium tomatillos, peeled and rinsed, quartered
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
3 cilantro sprigs, leaves removed, stems discarded
For the Celery Root:
2 large celery roots
1 pound kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 celery rib, trimmed and sliced thinly on a bias (total of 12 slices)
4 sprigs cilantro
Make the Coconut Crema:
In a small bowl, stir together coconut milk and buttermilk and transfer to an airtight container. Let the mixture ferment at room temperature for 48 hours. Season the crema with salt to taste and refrigerate until needed.
Make the Chilmole Paste:
Set a cast iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the allspice berries, black peppercorns, Mexican oregano and cloves and toast briefly until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat, transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Return the skillet to a medium flame and heat for five minutes. Add the garlic cloves and roast, turning them from time to time until softened slightly and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves and discard the skin.
Place the árbol chiles and ancho chiles on separate baking sheets. Roast the chiles under a broiler until completely black and burned to the point of cinder, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover with hot tap water and place a heavy plate over the chiles to keep them completely submerged. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
Drain the chiles and rinse under cold water until it runs clear. Return the chiles to the bowl, cover with hot tap water again and place a heavy plate over the chiles to keep them completely submerged. Set aside to soak for another 30 minutes.
Drain the chiles and transfer to a blender along with the ground spices, peeled garlic, cider vinegar, kosher salt and 1 cup of water, and purée on high speed until completely smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the Chilmole Mayonnaise:
In a blender, combine mayonnaise with 1/2 cup chilmole paste. Puree until smooth. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.
Make the Salsa Verde:
Combine tomatillos, garlic, Serrano chile and cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and set aside.
Make the Celery Root:
Preheat an oven to 250°. Wash the celery root under cold running water and pat dry. Line the bottom of a small cast iron skillet with kosher salt. Nestle the celery root into the salt and place in the oven. Roast the celery root until slightly tender, about 2 hours. Allow the celery root to cool to room temperature.
Using a knife, trim away the skin of the celery root. Cut the celery root into eight 1 1/2 inch bars. Slice each bar into seven approximately 1/4-inch thick slices on the bias.
Set the sliced celery root on a baking sheet. Brush with a bit of olive oil and season with salt.
Assemble the Dish:
Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of chilmole paste on 4 9-inch plates and allow them to dry at room temperature for an hour. Repeat this process two more times. It will yield a jet-black coating across the entire plate.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place a few dollops of coconut crema on each glazed plate.
Garnish the plates further with the chilmole mayonnaise and the salsa verde.
Transfer baking sheet with roasted celery root to oven and warm through, about 4 minutes. Fan two sliced celery root bars out on each plate.
Garnish each plate with 3 slices of raw celery and 4 cilantro leaves.