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Fort on Beetroot
Heston Blumenthal used to play a trick on customers at The Fat Duck. As a first course you would be presented with a little rectangular jelly one side of which was orange and the other purple. ‘I suggest you start with the orange,’ the waiter would say, and when you did, the ‘orange’ tasted of beetroot because it was made with golden beetroot, and the purple jelly tasted of orange because it was made with blood oranges. It was clever and delicious, and illustrated, among other things, the versatility of beetroot.
There’s more to beetroots than you might expect. They come in a range of different shapes - ball (round); root-shaped (long and tapering) and tankard (long and not tapering) - and in a spectrum of colour - purple, golden, orange and white, each tasting different. And then there’s what to my mind is the most delicious of all beetroots, the Italian barbietola di Chioggia (beetroot from Chioggia), which is a pale blushing pink, with concentric rings of heavier pink inside, which has a delicate sweetness which is particularly tempting. Such variety begets versatility, and beetroot is turning up increasingly frequently in starring gastronomic roles.
Article written by Matthew Fort
What Beetroot Goes With
Beetroot’s popularity among chefs seems to be growing all the time, given the increase in beetroot recipes in cookery books and food magazines. It can be matched with many meats, fish and reams of other vegetables - its earthy, sweetness a welcome foil to umami or sour tastes.
Marcello Tully uses beetroot as an addition to pigeon in his pigeon breast recipe. Beetroot's ability to complement mackerel can be shown in Dominic Chapman's seared mackerel and beetroot and by James Sommerin's intriguing mackerel and beetroot recipe that combines the ingredients with white chocolate.
Perhaps beetroot’s true brilliance can be gauged through its phenomenal partnership with cheese, frequently found in a number of delicious vegetarian recipes. Galton Blackiston's beetroot and goat’s cheese salad illustrates this brilliant pairing, as does Simon Hulstone's golden beetroot salad recipe, while Kevin Mangeolles serves his excellent beetroot tart with blue cheese beignets.
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