5 Ingredients or Fewer

Marcella Hazan's Braised Celery with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes

April  2, 2013
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

You've got a bundle of celery in the back of your crisper drawer. (Go check. You do.) This is what you should do with it. Stick it in a bath with olive oil, tomato, pancetta, and onion, then stand back. Serve it with a juicy roast chicken, lamb, or veal chops. Polenta or farro. A fried egg with very crisp edges. Bread. Or just nothing. Adapted slightly from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Alfred Knopf, 1992) —Genius Recipes

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, 14 Cozy, Tomatoey Braises to Warm Your Stove Now Through March, sponsored by Muir Glen. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds celery
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onions sliced very thin
  • 2/3 cup pancetta, cut into strips
  • 3/4 cup canned plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cut off the celery's leafy tops, saving the leaves for another use, and detach all the stalks from their base. Use a peeler to pare away most of the strings, and cut the stalks into pieces about 3 inches long (cutting on a diagonal looks nice). Alternately, if you plan on cooking long past tender (an hour or more), you can skip peeling the strings.
  2. Put the oil and onion in a saute pan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it wilts completely and becomes colored a light gold, then add the pancetta strips.
  3. After a few minutes, when the pancetta's fat loses its flat, white uncooked color and becomes translucent, add the tomatoes with their juice, the celery, salt, and pepper, and toss thoroughly to coat well. Adjust heat to cook at a steady simmer, and put a cover on the pan. After 15 minutes check the celery, cooking it until it feels tender when prodded with a fork. The longer you cook them, the softer and sweeter they will become. If while the celery is cooking, the pan juices become insufficient, replenish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water of juice from the canned tomatoes as needed. If on the contrary, when the celery is done, the pan juices are watery, uncover, raise the heat to high, and boil the juices away rapidly.

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Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.