Make the celery root cream. Place the chopped celeriac (celery
root) in a small heavy based pan and add heavy cream barely to
cover, probably around 1 cup. Cook gently (to avoid scorching)
until the celeriac is cooked through and very soft. Set aside
until just cool enough to handle but still warm. Puree in a blender
for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Season with salt and ground
white pepper. Set aside until ready to use. The celeriac cream
may be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Prepare the shallots, walnuts, celery, chives and ham as noted
in the list of ingredients. Shuck the oysters over a strainer,
reserving the liquid to add to the stew. Handle each oyster to
assure they are free of shells and pat dry with a paper towel.
To make the stew: In a heavy based sauce pan, heat a drop
of oil. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the champagne
or white wine, reserved oyster liqueur and enough fish stock to
make 1 cup OR just the oyster liqueur, celeriac cream and 5 cups
of heavy cream. Bring just to a boil and gently cook until reduced
almost by half or to desired consistency. Season with salt, ground
white pepper and a few shots of Tabasco to taste. While the stew
is reducing, lightly flour the oysters, shaking off any excess
flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat a dash of oil in a
sautÈ pan and sear the oysters (a few at a time to maintain
the high heat of the pan necessary for searing) for a second or
two on each side just until the oysters are golden and crisp.
Set aside on a paper towel to drain, preferably in a warm place.
To serve: Ladle 6-8 oz. of cream base into each warmed
bowl. In the center, place 4 of the seared oysters ands sprinkle
generously with the chopped walnuts, diced ham, diced celery and
Wine Recommendations: Pouilly FumÈ, Pursang, Didier Dagueneau