Salt baked Beetroot with, pickled Mushrooms, smoked Buckwheat, puffed Rice, charred Lettuce and Pea and Horseradish purée
Forget the British staple of meat and two veg, this dish takes the humble beetroot and plonks it glistening in all its ruby red brilliance bang smack centre stage, making it perfect for vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
Cast aside any ill feelings for this underused vegetable, the salt baked beets that emerge from the cooking process take on a full-bodied, earthy taste that is a million miles away from the flabby pickled, crinkle cut jar beetroot you find in the shops, and pairs brilliantly with the pickled savoury taste of the mushrooms and smokey grains.
SALT BAKED BEETROOT
250g Coarse sea salt
1 Egg white
125g Plain flour
3 Medium beetroots
500g Mixed mushrooms
65g Caster sugar
3 Garlic cloves
3 Thyme sprigs
2 Oregano sprigs
2 Bay leaves
1 Red chilli left whole
1tbsp Black peppercorns
240ml Apple cider vinegar
SMOKED BUCKWHEAT & PUFFED RICE
250g Wild Rice
Vegetable or sunflower oil
PEA & HORSERADISH PURÉE
125g Frozen peas
2 tbsp Fresh horseradish, grated
1-2 tbsp Creme fraiche
2 Gem lettuces
To pickle the mushrooms, in a large pan combine all the ingredients, minus the mushrooms and bring to the boil, stir to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the mushrooms to the pan, bring to the boil again, reduce the heat and simmer the mushrooms for 1 minute. Transfer to a heatproof container and let cool. Place in the fridge until needed. The mushrooms will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.
To cook the buckwheat, preheat the oven to its lowest setting around 60°C/120°F. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the buckwheat and simmer until tender. Strain. Line a roasting tray with parchment paper, evenly spread out the buckwheat and place in oven, turn off the heat and leave to dry for 3 hours. Once dry remove.
To smoke the buckwheat, line a roasting pan with tinfoil spread the buckwheat at one end and place the wood chips at the other. Set light to the wood chips, so they smoulder. Cover the pan with more tinfoil, smoke for around 10-15 minutes depending on desired taste (This can be done in advance and stored in an airtight container)
To puff the rice, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the rice and simmer until tender. Strain and dry on kitchen towel. Fill a large saucepan with the oil and heat until hot around 180°C (To test drop a cube of bread into the oil, it should rise to the surface and turn golden brown) Once the oil has reached temperature add the rice to the pan in batches and cook until puffed up. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the rice from the pan and drain on kitchen towel. Set to one side, until you assemble the dish. Now cook the beetroot.
To bake the beetroot, place the salt, egg white, flour lemon zest, thyme and water in a food processor or using a hand blender, whizz until combined and forms a dough. Tip out, using your hand bring together until you have a firm dough. Cover with clingfilm and set to one side to rest for an hour or two.
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Remove the stalks from the beetroot and clean. Roll out the reserved dough, and cut into three equal pieces, large enough to cover each beetroot. Cover the beetroots with the rolled out dough pieces ensuring that each is completely sealed. Bake for 1 – 1½ hours until a crust has formed. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pea and horseradish purée.
To make the purée, place the peas in a saucepan and cover with water, add a little bouillon to the pan, bring to the boil and blanch the peas until tender. Strain into iced water, reserving the liquid. Add the peas to a blender along with the grated horseradish, creme fraiche, pepper and a splash of the reserved cooking liquid. Blitz until smooth and thick. Strain the purée through a fine sieve and put into the fridge until you assemble the dish.
To serve, pile some of the smoked grains and puffed rice in the centre of a dish. Remove the beetroot from the salt crust, peel and cut into chunks. Scatter the pieces around the plate. Heat a griddle on a medium heat until hot. Remove the outer leaves from the lettuce and trim the bottom slice in half lengthways, drizzle the cut side with a little oil and place cut-side down in the hot pan, cook until the lettuce has browned and slightly wilted. Once browned place attractively on the plate. Scatter around some of the pickled mushrooms and dot the plate with the pea and horseradish purée.