The first time I made these, it was for one of those “chef challenge” competitions: come up with a dish featuring celery root, something you can complete in 15 minutes using only 6 ingredients. First, you have to understand that I don’t really like celery root (or celery, for that matter). But I really like what I turned out: a variation on potato pancakes (or latkes), infused with cilantro and smoky-spicy chipotle, plus Mexican crema and queso añejo (those four ingredients can make practically anything taste delicious as far as I’m concerned). To tell the truth, I’ve made these at home a number of times (yes, I really do like them), and, on occasion, I’ve sprinkled them with chopped crispy bacon or layered some smoked salmon underneath the crema, making them even more Mexican latke-like.
Using a food processor or box grater (use the large holes), grate the celery root and potatoes—you should have about 3 ¼ cups of each. In a medium bowl, mix together the celery root, potato, eggs, two-thirds of your chopped chipotles, 1/3 cup of the cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt.
Heat enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of a very large (12-inch) skillet (preferably a non-stick or seasoned cast iron) over medium-high. When the oil is hot, scoop up about ½ cup of the celery root mixture and drop it into the skillet; you should be able to get six mounds onto your large skillet at a time. Using a spatula, flatten them into pancakes about 3/8 inch thick. Let the pancakes sizzle until they are richly browned and crispy, 3 or 4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side. Remove them to a baking sheet and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining pancakes.
While the pancakes are cooking, stir the remaining chipotle into the crema (or one of its stand-ins). Serve the pancakes topped with chipotle crema, a shower of the remaining cilantro and a generous sprinkling of queso añejo.