Knife Skills: Diced Celery (or, Mirepoix 2)

Mire-what? Check out Knife Skills: Diced Onion (or, Mirepoix 1) out to get caught up.

Ah, celery. That crunchy, stringy, fresh-fresh-fresh tasting vehicle for almond butter or yogurt dip. Hm, a different day perhaps. No. Today, let us dice up our celery into tiny bits. Let the tiny bits then be added to our onions and carrots, and together may they work in harmony and form mirepoix, for ever and ever, amen.

Just last night I added this to what ultimately became a creamy rosemary mushroom and lamb soup. 

Choosing celery

 

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This one can be tricky, because sometimes you're just stuck with whatever the market has. Whatever you do, go for the firmest and greenest you can find, and for the love of the Universe, please don't be wasteful and buy only celery hearts. Find a bunch with healthy, filled-out leaves on top, and try to avoid anything wilty. At the farmer's market, you may find the celery looks more like thick grass, and not like the wide stalks you're used to - that's ok!

Method

Prep: Pull stalks off the bunch and wash

This seems obvious. However, I wanted to mention it because, as celery does grow near the ground, it therefore can be crammed with dirt. A lot of it. Make sure to wash each stalk thoroughly, and if you have a veggie brush, go to town. However, I find that even stubborn dirt will come off if you rub the stalk with your thumb as you rinse.

Step 1: 

Cut off the top, just below where the little branches and leaves start, and set them aside. Cut off toughest bit of the bottom and toss the bits into your compost pail, or the vegetable stock bin I know you keep in your freezer. 

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Step 2:

Pull off the leafy bits from the top part of the stalk. Don't throw them away! There's a lot of good celery flavor in there. Plan to chop up the leaves with everything else. DO, however, cut off the little dried bits from the very top of the stalk (in the middle of the picture). Into the compost the dried bits go.

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Step 3:

Make one or two more cuts in the stalk(s) so they're at similar lengths. Then, cut each stalk lengthwise into 2, 3 or 4 mini-stalks. You can even do more if you'd like extra tiny bits, but this should be enough. I just try to get them all about the same width, so as you move down to the wider part of the stalk, you make more cuts.

I use the leafy stalks to determine about how long to cut the rest. It's ok if they're not exact.

The ones on the right were pretty skinny, so I just cut them in half. The one on the left I cut into thirds; this picture shows only the first cut.

Step 4:

Stack a few lengths together (4 or 5 is usually about right) and start slicing off the ends, about an eighth of an inch at a time. Don't forget your claw.

I really need a tripod so I can take pictures of myself actually cutting, instead of my idle knife.

I really need a tripod so I can take pictures of myself actually cutting, instead of my idle knife.

Et voilà! Diced celery for your mirepoix pleasure.

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