The humble beetroot when baked in salt becomes a stylish starter served in expensive restaurants in Sweden and across the world, yet it is very easy to make. It looks and smells good when it is broken open at the table and the delicious aroma of the beetroot is released.
This recipe makes a nice starter which normally serves one person if the beetroot is served with some nice vinegar and good quality rye bread. However, I prefer to divide the beetroot between two people and accompany it with some venison prosciutto, freshly grated horseradish and toasted sourdough, or with some nice goats' cheese.
– Use a carving knife and fork to cut into the baked salt as it can be hard.
– If serving individually at the table, lightly crack open each beetroot parcel before taking to the table.
– If you want to prepare it a day in advance, reduce the cooking time by 20 minutes and then reheat it when required for 20 minutes.
– Serve with the best quality vinegar you can afford – an aged sherry vinegar or a good balsamic would be ideal.
1 medium-large beetroot, about 250g (8oz)
300g (1 cup) coarse sea salt
1 ½ tbsp freshly grated horseradish (optional)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 egg white
good quality vinegar to taste (see tips)
1. Preheat the oven to 190C (375F, gas 5, fan 170C).
2. Trim the ends off the beetroot, but leave the skin on, and then scrub it thoroughly.
3. Mix the salt, grated horseradish, thyme and egg white together to form a stiff paste.
4. Cover the beetroot all over with the salt mixture until you have a smooth ball. I find it easier to cut a circle of greaseproof paper, about 20cm (8in) diameter, and sit this in a small ovenproof dish, put some of the salt mixture on top of the paper, add the beetroot and then spoon the rest of mixture round the beetrot, making sure that there are no gaps and smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon or my fingers, but it doesn't really matter how you do it.
5. Transfer to an ovenproof tray and bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
6. Break open the salt ball with a sharp knife and then remove the beetroot in one piece. Transfer to a serving plate and cut into about 8 slices. Drizzle with vinegar and serve.
Beetroot goes particularly well with horseradish, goats' cheese, venison and smoked meat, so here are a few suggestions:
1. With a good quality vinegar and some nice rye bread.
2. With venison carpaccio or venison prosciutto, freshly grated horseradish and toasted sourdough.
3. With a soft goats' cheese with some rinsed capers.
4. With homemade horseradish sauce. Lightly whisk together 200g (1 cup) crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives and 2 teaspoons of sherry wine vinegar.
Recipe published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.