This recipe is an adaptation of the classic Celery Victor, a dish usually served cold and drizzled with vinaigrette.
Cooked celery as a stand-alone dish is not common in American cuisine; instead, we tend to use raw celery for its crunchy texture, or we use it as one of many aromatic elements in soups and stews. But braised celery, where the stalks are slowly cooked in a flavorful broth, is the most delicious and successful way to cook this vegetable.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, keeping the bunches of celery intact, trim off the tops so the bunch measures about 6 inches in length. If you're not using celery hearts, remove the large outer stalks as well (these can be tough) and reserve them for another use.
Cut the celery bunches in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and blanch the celery halves for 10 minutes. Drain the celery, and then plunge it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cool, remove from the water and pat dry.
Heat a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and add the diced bacon. Sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the bacon begins to color and render its fat. Add the diced carrot and onion, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x12-inch baking pan. Place the celery halves, cut side down, in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Spoon the bacon, carrot, and onion mixture over the celery. Pour in the hot stock and the white wine. The liquid should cover at least half of the celery; if it doesn't, add more stock or use a smaller baking dish. Place a sheet of buttered parchment or wax paper atop the dish, and then cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake for 50 minutes, then raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and loosen the foil cover slightly. Continue cooking until the celery is just tender at the center when poked with a metal skewer, 15 to 30 minutes more. Note that the cooking time will vary depending on the freshness and maturity of the celery, so check for doneness several times to avoid overcooking.
Remove the celery to a platter and boil the pan juices until they form a syrupy glaze. Pour the glaze over the celery and serve warm.