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Celery Victor
To serve 6

3 bunches celery, about 2 inches in diameter
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, fresh or canned
herb bouquet of 4 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf and celery leaves tied together
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
12 flat anchovy fillets
12 strips pimiento
6 slices tomato (optional)
6 slices hard-cooked eggs (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Remove the outer stalks of the celery, leaving a heart about 1 inch
wide and 6 inches long. Cut each celery heart in half lengthwise.
Cut away all but small leaves and trim the root ends (do not cut
too deep; the celery halves should hold together). Use the cut-away
leaves for the herb bouquet. With a sharp knife, scrape the outer
stalks if they seem coarse.

Arrange the celery halves side by side in a 10- or 12-inch skillet,
preferably enameled or stainless steel, and pour in the stock,
using more stock or water if the celery is not completely covered.
Add the herb bouquet, with as much salt and pepper as suits your
taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to its lowest point,
cover tightly and simmer the celery for about 15 minutes, or until
it shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
With tongs on a slotted spoon, transfer the celery halves to a deep
platter that will hold them in a single layer.

With a whisk, beat the vinegar and the oil together and pour over
the celery while it is still warm. Refrigerate for at least an
hour before serving. To serve, arrange the celery halves on
individual chilled plates and crisscross 2 anchovy fillets and 2
strips of pimiento over each serving. Or instead, if you prefer,
garnish the celery with a slice of tomato and a slice of hard-cooked
egg. In either case, moisten the celery with a spoonful or so of
the vinegar-olive oil sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley.


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