Artichoke, Celery Root, and Potato Gratin
By: 
Dish Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Ingredient prep: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6 entree servings (or 8 sides)
 
If you've never held, much less trimmed, a whole artichoke before, never fear. This recipe is the perfect starting point (for you and me both), because the end result is so classically tasty, you'll be itching to perfect your trimming skills again.
Ingredients
  • ½ C lemon juice
  • 1 additional lemon, quartered
  • 2 t all purpose flour (optional)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter (plus more for pan)
  • 2¼ C diced yellow onion (1 large)
  • 4 medium to large artichokes
  • 1 large celery root (mine was just over a pound)
  • 1 large Yukon gold (or other thin-skinned yellow) potato (1/2 lb.)
  • 1¼ t kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 12 oz. sturdy white bread, such as pain de campagne, crusts removed and torn into 1" pieces (fresh, not dried)
  • 1 C milk
  • ½ C finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 T chopped garlic (just larger than minced)
  • 2 oz. parmesan, finely grated
Make It
  1. Fill a large bowl with 2 quarts water and 6 T lemon juice. Trim the artichokes as follows, which is well demonstrated in this video (through 2:20, at which point our methods vary slightly). Remove leaves by snapping them firmly down toward the stem, stopping when the revealed leaves are pale yellow at the base and more thin than those on the outer layers. Cut off enough of the end of the stem to reveal a clean cross section, then use a paring knife to peel away most of the green outer layer of the stem, leaving the lighter middle intact. Rub stem with a lemon wedge. With the same knife, peel off the darker green area at the base of the bulb, just above the stem, so it's smooth where the outer leaves were snapped off. Rub with lemon. With a sharp knife, cut off the top third of the artichoke bulb, turn it upside down, and dip it into the lemon (acidulated) water. Quarter the artichoke, dipping each piece into the lemon water. Firmly pull on the inner, purple-tipped leaves to remove, then cut out the fuzzy innard, the "choke", with the paring knife. Be careful to remove only the choke and little of the heart below it, which is the best part of the artichoke (how hazardous for our trimming efforts). Drop the cleaned quarters into the bowl of acidulated water and trim the remaining 3 artichokes.
  2. Trim the celery root (see this excellent tutorial) by cutting off the ends with a sharp knife. Stand it on one end, then cut away the peel from top to bottom, working your way around the root. Halve the root from top to bottom. Slice the celery root very thinly (on a mandolin--helpful but not required). Scrub and dry the potato, then slice it the same or similar thickness as the celery root.
  3. In a large pot, combine most of the acidulated water from the artichokes (leaving a bit in the bowl with them), an additional 1½ quarts of water, and 2 more tablespoons lemon juice. Add flour and 2 teaspoons olive oil, then bring to a boil. Add artichokes and gently boil for 10 minutes.
  4. While artichokes cook, melt butter in a large skillet over medium. Add onions, stir to coat, then cook, stirring occasionally. If onions begin to brown in the first couple minutes, turn down the heat. The goal is to brown them over the next 20 minutes or so. Leave them on the heat, stirring occasionally, as you proceed.
  5. Remove artichokes to a now empty bowl using a slotted spoon. Add celery root to water and boil 3 minutes, removing to another bowl. Boil potatoes for 1 minute, then add to bowl with celery root. Thinly slice the slightly cooled artichokes, discarding any especially tough leaves you encounter (if they're hard to cut, they'll likely be hard to chew). Perfect slices aren't necessary--the goal is just to break up the artichokes into smaller, relatively uniform pieces, but some leaves will separate from the heart.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
  7. Once the onions have started to brown, add artichokes, celery root, and potato to the pan and stir (or use tongs to toss) to coat in butter and onions. Cook and stir another 8 to 10 minutes, until celery root and potatoes have softened further (but not cooked completely--bite into a potato slice to check). Stir in 1¼ teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  8. Rinse and dry one of the bowls from the vegetables. Place the bread pieces in it and pour milk evenly over them. After 5 minutes, gently squeeze bread in your hands to remove excess moisture and discard extra milk. Toss bread with parsley, garlic, parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  9. Butter a 9 x 13" (or slightly smaller) baking dish, preferably glass or enameled, then spread the onion and vegetable mixture evenly, making sure one type of vegetable doesn't all end up in one corner.
  10. Top vegetables with bread mixture, then drizzle with remaining (2+ tablespoons) olive oil. Bake about 35 minutes on middle oven rack, until top is golden brown in places and gratin is bubbly. Cool briefly, then cut with a serrated knife and serve carefully, so browned crust stays on top.
Notes
Instead of a 9 x 13, I made this in 2 small rectangular glass dishes. That way, I could bake the second one fresh, with the topping at its best.

Adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison.
Recipe by Natural Comfort Kitchen at http://www.naturalcomfortkitchen.com/artichoke-celery-root-and-potato-gratin/