Celeriac doesn’t get a lot of good press, though it should. We figure that’s because even though it has the most unbelievably subtle nutty-celery flavour and heavy-crisp texture, it’s kinda scary looking. The one we picked up sat on the bench like a mutant dr zoidberg for two days before we decided what to do with it. At one stage, we’re pretty sure we saw its eyes move. When it started to look like that little boy in the potato sack mask from the orphanage, we decided it was time to slice it into pieces and enjoy it. Carpaccio seemed logical. Lesson? Don’t make this in the dark.
Like tartare, if you struggle with raw meat and raw eggs you are probably going to balk at this. But seriously, try it. With top shelf meat and fresh, quality eggs, you will be fine. Thank us later.
for the aioli
1 small bunch of french tarragon (set aside a few leaves for garnish)
2 egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Place the fillet in the freezer for about 20 minutes – it will be much easier to slice. Just don’t forget it is there.
Now, confession: this is actually a mayonnaise, but aioli sounds better. Go with it. In a clean, dry bowl gently whisk the eggs with 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly add a tablespoon of oil to the eggs and continue to whisk. Once the mixture has emulsified, add a slow and steady stream of oil, making sure the mixture does not separate. Pick a large handful of the tarragon leaves, chop finely, and add to the aioli. Mix until well incorporated. Refrigerate for as long as you can before serving – the aioli will firm up and the flavour of the tarragon will infuse and intensify. You could even do this a day in advance if you are one of those people. A few other tips:
1) if you are using one of those electric hand mixers with two beaters, use only one of the attachments. For some reason using both seems to cut the mixture rather than emulsifying it and you end up with a very sad looking aioli.
2) Believe it or not, you can use a bamix for this and it will give you a smooth bright green aioli.
Slice the celeriac into paper thin discs with a mandolin or a really really sharp knife. Toast the pistachios and roughly chop.
When you are ready to plate up, remove the meat from the freezer and slice as thinly as possible against the grain. Place the slices between two sheets of glad wrap. Bash the meat as flat as you can with the smooth side of a meat mallet or whatever is handy and fits in your fist. Jam jars are good.
Arrange the slices of fillet and celeriac on the plate and dollop with aioli. Season verrrrry carefully with sea salt flakes. Scatter the pistachios, pink peppercorns and a few of the remaining tarragon leaves over the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon juice to serve.