When the Unicorn Hotel in Sydney’s Paddington was taken over by the Mary’s team back in 2015, all eyes were on the fact that they were serving suburban Aussie classics such as Jatz crackers with French onion dip, meat pies and buttered white bread. But soon enough, it was their chicken schnitzel hogging all the attention. Made from both the wing and the breast, the plate-sized schnitzel is served on a generous pile of mash. It’s made all the better for the fact that it’s sitting in a generous puddle of gravy.

As with many of the meaty dishes the Mary’s crew does so well, there’s a vegetarian surrogate that’s as good as the original. In this case, the chicken is replaced with panko-crumbed celeriac and the gravy is made with veggie (rather than chicken) stock and coconut oil. Serve it on a liberal amount of mashed potato with a lemon wedge and sprig of garlic for the real Unicorn experience.

“Our very fucking delicious vegetarian version of this eternal blessing is done with braised celeriac replacing the chook,” Mary’s co-owner Jake Smyth tells Broadsheet. “We wanted to give foliage-lovers something that might even cause the poultry-minded to nick a mouthful … Enter the celeriac. Given the same fried crumb treatment and served with mash and a veg gravy. Welcome to 2020, fuckers.”

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Celeriac Schnitty
Serves 4–6
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2.5 hours

1 large celeriac, peeled
250ml liquid kombu
2 bay leaves
300g brown butter
Flour, for dipping
Panko crumbs, for dipping
Almond milk, for dipping
Oil, for frying

Vegetable stock
5 onions
8 carrots
2 bulbs garlic, peeled
2 ears corn

8 tomatoes
1 bunch thyme
1 celeriac top
4 whole capsicums
1 head celery
20 dried shiitake mushrooms
6 bay leaves
300ml liquid kombu

500g coconut oil
550g plain flour
90g salt

For the stock
Cook carrots and onions in a frying pan with some olive oil until caramelised. Place carrots, onions and all remaining stock ingredients into a large pot, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for two hours. Use a fine strainer to strain liquid.

For the gravy

Heat the oil and flour on a low heat until coffee brown and smelling like popcorn, stirring every 30 to 60 seconds so it doesn’t stick. Add 5 to 6 litres of the stock in batches, constantly skimming fat from the top, then season (you can also use the cooking liquid from the celeriac in the gravy). Simmer for 45 minutes to cook out the flour. If gravy becomes too thick, add more stock.

For the schnitty
Preheat oven to 160°C. Slice the celeriac into 2cm rounds, then place in a single layer in an oven tray. Cover with the kombu, thyme, bay leaves and brown butter, and just enough stock to cover it all, then braise for 20 minutes or until cooked. Leave to chill in the stock. Once chilled, take the pieces out, gently cover with flour, dip in almond milk and then cover in panko crumbs. Fill a pot with enough oil to cover the celeriac, but so that it doesn’t take up more than a third of the pot. Heat oil to 165°C and cook each schnitzel for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve on a bed of mash with a sprig of curly parsley and a lemon wedge.

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