If there is no veal stock available, use light brown stock. Braised celery keeps very well and it does not take much longer to cook twice the amount needed for immediate use.
Discard the tough, outer stalks from the celery. Trim off the ends of the stalks level where the white part ends so that the celery is about 15 cm/6 inches long. With a potato peeler or sharp knife, trim the root end into an oval shape.
Wash the celery thoroughly and plunge it into a saucepan of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and cook for 12 minutes, then drain and rinse. Drain again and shake well. Tie around each head with string.
Put the carrot and the onion cut into rings into a saucepan just big enough to hold the celery. Add the bouquet garni. Place the celery in the pan, cover with very lightly salted stock and add the bacon, chopped. Bring to the boil. Place a sheet of buttered paper on top, cover and cook very gently for about 2 hours, then test the celery to see if it is tender.
When the celery is cooked, drain and remove the string. Cut the heads in half lengthways and put into another saucepan. Measure out 200 ml/7 fl oz (scant 1 cup) of the cooking liquid and reduce by half. Skim off all the fat, add all but 30 ml/2 tbsp of veal stock and bring to the boil. Thicken with potato flour blended with the reserved cold stock. Cover the celery with this liquid and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Remove the pieces of celery from the cooking liquid and arrange overlapping in a heated serving dish. Finish the sauce off the heat by beating in the butter, then pour over the celery.
- "Larousse Traditional French Cooking," by Curnonsky