Tuesday 12 November 2019

Robin Gill: Smoked beetroot tartare, Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut


Smoked beetroot tartare, Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut. Photography © Paul Winch-Furness
Smoked beetroot tartare, Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut. Photography © Paul Winch-Furness
Suckling Pig Belly Bao, Kimchi. Photography © Paul Winch-Furness
Robin Gill. Photo: © Paul Winch-Furness
Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press, £26). Photography © Paul Winch-Furness

Irish chef Robin Gill, owner of The Dairy in London, is on a mission to prove that traditional cooking and preserving methods can be achieved at home - and that the taste is worth the work.

Smoked beetroot tartare, Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut

I've become slightly obsessed with smoking things. I started with the obvious, salmon, and moved on to meat like game, pigeon and venison, then to bone marrow (our smoked bone marrow butter became kind of legendary). We even started smoking ice-creams. Playing around with smoking fruit and vegetables was exciting and opened up so many possibilities. Beetroot worked immediately. It's one of my favourite vegetables because of its versatility. I find the large ruby beetroot to be quite meaty so we thought up a play on a beef tartare. But not in the way of veggie burgers and vegan sausages. I hate that stuff! It is kind of fun to dress this tartare as you would imagine it being served in a Parisian brasserie.

Serves 6

Fermented beetroot (makes 2kg)

3kg raw beetroot, peeled and quartered

Whey (optional)

Fine table salt


1. Juice a third of the beetroot. Place a 2-litre Kilner jar on a kitchen scale and return the scales to zero. Add the remaining quartered beetroot to the jar and pour in the beetroot juice. Top up with a mixture of whey and water or just water. Calculate 2pc of the weight of the contents of the jar and add this amount of salt to the jar. Seal the jar.

2. Leave to ferment at a warm room temperature for about 3 weeks; keep away from direct sunlight. Once ready, the beetroot will be slightly softened and sour. The sealed jar can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months. Once opened, use within 1 month.

Hung yoghurt

200g plain yoghurt


Line a large sieve with muslin and set it over a deep bowl. Put the yoghurt into the sieve, then gather up the edges of the cloth and secure them together. Leave in the fridge overnight to allow the liquid to drain out of the yoghurt (this liquid or whey can be reserved and used in ferments).

Smoked Beetroot

500g raw beetroot

A drizzle of vegetable oil

Rock salt

Applewood chips, for smoking


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C/gas mark 6-7. Drizzle each beetroot with oil, sprinkle with salt and wrap individually in foil. Bake for 1-1ƒ hours or until the core temperature reaches 90°C. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and steam in the foil for 15 minutes. Remove from the foil and rub off the skins.

2. Take a flat tray with a steam insert (such as a deep roasting tray that will hold a flat steaming rack) and spread the applewood chips over the bottom. Warm the tray over a medium heat until the chips start to smoke, then turn the heat down to low. Place the beetroot on the steam insert/steaming rack and set this over the smoking chips. Completely cover the top and sides tightly with oven-safe clingfilm so the smoke is sealed inside with the beetroot. Leave to lightly smoke for 7 minutes. Remove the beetroot from the tray and leave to cool.

Brined Egg Yolks

500ml 7pc brine (see note above)

10 egg yolks (we use CackleBean) - this allows for a few breakages

A drizzle of vegetable oil


Pour the brine into a deep bowl. Gently add the yolks using your hands or a slotted spoon. Cover the surface of the brine with the vegetable oil so that the yolks are held down in the brine. Allow the yolks to brine for 1 hour at room temperature. To serve, gently remove the yolks with your hands or a slotted spoon.


1 tbsp shallot vinegar

2 tbsp capers

Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper

A handful of fresh hazelnuts, finely sliced

Bittercress or watercress to garnish


Mince 240g of the fermented beetroot with the smoked beetroot through a mincer or chop finely with a knife. Season with the shallot vinegar, capers and some salt and pepper. Using a small ring mould, make a disc of the beetroot mixture in the centre of each plate. Top with a layer of the hazelnut slices. Gently place a brined egg yolk to the side of each disc. Garnish with cracked black pepper and bittercress or watercress. Place a spoonful of the hung yoghurt to the side of each disc.


Salt and brines

A brine is a mixture of salt and water. The salt is added to the water and brought just to the boil to dissolve the salt, then allowed to cool before use. We make brines of different strengths based on the amount of salt that is added. This is expressed as a percentage in relation to the amount of water. So, for example, a 2pc brine means that the weight of salt added is 2pc of the weight of the water. In other words, for a litre of water (which weighs 1kg) you would need to add 20g salt.

Irish Independent

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