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FOOD Beetroot and sage relish

Outdoor Living

And the beet goes on

Food and wine
Redmond Cabot

I am not a celebrity chef! I do not want to be a celebrity chef! (Show me the money and see how my moral stance quickly disappears!). The recipes I believe in are about the integrity of food, and food that, if possible, we can find among our doorsteps.
Style, perception, fashion, are all points of view, a perspective. Quality, true quality, is a truth that will reveal itself no matter how much you dress it up, or take it down. Everybody has it inside them selves to find, appreciate and produce great foods.
This week its all about the wonders of what is available around us, in Mayo, in terms of the fresh, wonderful world of veggies and wild produce.

Roasted beetroot and sage relish
People are loving this relish where I sell it in Westport Country Markets every Thursday morning, and my ego would like to lay claim to its creation on a recent Wednesday night, after 11pm and three Millers.
The beet veggie is a classic in its own right, and only the most uncompassionate people would deny this versatile vegetable the beauty and versatility of taste and texture that can be achieved with it. Great for the insides department too, don’t you know.
Roasting it brings out a sweetness that is a joy – root veggies improve after the first frost, as their starch converts to simple sugars.

  • 5 medium beetroots
  • Tumbler of olive oil
  • Tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped sage

  • Throw the five earthy beets in the sink, wash roughly and clean with a green pad. Rough job. Nip off tops and bottoms hanging out (be careful – take too much and it bleeds too much) and lay aside.
  • Break your tinfoil in half foot strips, then halve those. Put beets onto each tin foil square and fold foil around to cover all Beet. Big beets (Dazzle Disco take note!) can be cut in half.
  • Put in a tray in a 140º oven. After 45 minutes increase the temperature to 180º for 15 minutes. I find cooking it this way gets the beets up to temperature and then blasts them for that ‘roast’. Too high from the beginning will make them too dry all round.
  • You want the veggie to be fully roasted – not too hard, but not over-cooked to dryness.
  • When unwrapped from foil, its wet skin just peels away as you rub your hands around it.
  • The flesh inside should be sweet and moist, and the texture of piercing a courgette.
  • Over-cooked, it will be shrunken, dry and too soft. Under cook it, and it’s too hard and narly, like the bull’s testicles up in old Paddy Maguire’s field.
  • After taking skin off, place the beets directly in the blender with the olive oil and salt. Blend it baby!
  • Pour in the balsamic vinegar, add the sage (mine was sent to me across the country by my friend Natascha – not local, I know, but…), and give one final blend.

This relish is delicious with cheeses, in salads and sandwiches or with pork.
Or be brave and oven/pan cook a chicken breast then throw in three big spoons of relish per fillet/person, add cream, stir, and watch as the most beautiful blend of colours emerges for your plate.
Golly, I thought that would only take a paragraph…