BIG TONI’S ITALIAN KITCHEN

Braised Celery

 This recipe turns celery into a wonderful new vegetable to go with any meat or fish dish that has no tomatoes in it. You can even eat it at room temperature, but it is wonderful hot with some lamb chops coated in parmesan crust. The combination of the cheese, pancetta, tomato and sweet lamb is just out of this world. If you are a veggie leave out the Pancetta and add some garlic.

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Serves 4 to 6 as a side 

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  •     1kg Celery
  •     3 table spoons of olive oil
  •     1 large onion sliced thin
  •     150g of pancetta cut into strips
  •     400g tin of Italian tomatoes chopped with their juice
  •     Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

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How to make:

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We only want to use the stalks of the celery no leafy tops. 

If the celery is stingy or old peel away the strings with a potato peeler cut the stalks into pieces 10cm long , cut at an angle it looks better.

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In a sauté pan add the oil and onion and cook until the onion turns a light gold then add the pancetta.

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When the pancetta's fat loses its colour, and becomes translucent, add the tomatoes their juice, the celery, salt, and pepper, make sure you coat the celery well. 

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Cook at a steady simmer, and cover the pan. After about 15 minutes check the celery, cooking it until it feels tender when poked with a fork. 

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The longer you cook them, the softer and sweeter they will become. If the pan becomes too dry, replenish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or white wine. If when the celery is done, the pan juices are watery, uncover, raise the heat to high, and reduce the liquid.

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Check seasoning and serve.

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For a veggie version of Braised Celery take away the Pancetta and add two banana shallotts a punnet of mushrooms and a splash of Tabasco

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From all good supermarkets.

Outstanding Sicilian oil. Yellow-green color, smooth taste, unfiltered. Limited quantities. The oil is produced at the estate of Prince Pignatelli at Castelvetrano in Sicily using the Nocellara varietal. The 100% Nocellara del Belice olives are hand-picked from the trees. An exceptional oil. 

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