Martha Stewart Living (November 2015)
At Fakesgiving, after the plates had been cleared and we were all just sitting around and talking, we played a game called “Something I Hate That Everyone Else Loves.”
It was all fun and games -- "The beach!" "Monty Python!" "Shonda Rhimes shows!"-- until our friend Ben* weighed in with his answer: "Beyoncé."
The room fell silent.
Shock hung in the air.
"You hate ... Beyoncé? But ... why? She's so ... I mean, she's Beyoncé."
We think Mrs. Carter can handle the critics.
Celery however, needs defenders.
This Braised Celery may be a case of something we love that everyone else hates. Well, "hates" is too strong a word. But the fact is, we both really liked this dish, but our guests were mostly unenthusiastic about it.
We can understand why: celery is a hard sell.
But here we are, giving it the hard sell: You should try this Braised Celery on your Thanksgiving table.
We love the idea of elevating simple celery -- unappreciated ingredient of chicken stock and reviled snack of dieters everywhere -- to the Thanksgiving table. It's unexpected to see it there.
This is a very simple preparation: The celery is simply braised in butter and chicken broth with a bit of herbs and seasoning. The braise brings richness to the dish, but the celery still shines through. Though there's butter and stock, it reads "clean" on the plate, especially compared to the other richness one encounters at Thanksgiving.
A couple days after our Fakesgiving meal, we asked for feedback from our guests about what they'd liked and disliked. One friend, Will, wrote to say that he didn't care much for this braised celery. "But," he added, "I don't hate it as much as Ben hates Beyoncé."
You'll have to judge for yourself.
*This individual's name has been changed to protect his identity and others' opinions of his taste level.
2 large heads celery, outer stalks removed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 to 6 large sprigs thyme
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in upper third. Cut each head of celery in half lengthwise, and peel larger stalks with a vegetable peeler. Trim 1/4 inch from bases (keeping heads intact), then trim tops so each half is about 12 inches long. Arrange celery in a single layer, cut-sides up, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Season generously with salt and pepper; scatter with thyme and dot with butter. Pour in broth and oil.
Cover with parchment-lined foil. Bake until celery is knife-tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn oven to broil; remove foil. Spoon juices over celery and broil until lightly charred in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.