My fiance loves pickled beetroot. She’ll munch through jars of the stuff as a snack but I’ve never been all that fussed by it. It’s too overpowering and annihilates whatever is unfortunate enough to share a plate with it. That’s not to say I don’t like beetroot. It’s the second best root vegetable in the packets of root veg crisps you can buy these days (obviously parsnip is the best) and I’ve had some pretty good beet experiences in the past.
Recently I’ve noticed roast beetroot appearing on cooking programmes and menus more often. I picked up some pigeon breasts at the farmers market and decided it would be a good time to try roasting beets.
As usual when I try something new I had a look online for a few guidelines. Most recipes followed the same kind of idea although there was some debate about keeping the skin on or not. In the end I decided just to leave it on. What it would lose in looks it might gain in flavour. I also decided to leave some of the smaller beets whole and the other ones I cut in half. A clove of garlic saw the flat of my hand before going into the roasting tin with the beetroot and a couple of sprigs of thyme. Olive oil, salt and pepper then into the oven.
The beetroot came out 45 minutes later, slightly caramelised on the bottom, smelling amazing. It tasted pretty great as well, I’m totally converted to the beetroot cause now. It’s a brilliant partner for game like the pigeon I served it up with (alongside some asparagus). Its flavour is sweet and earthy with a wonderfully soft texture. It’s a million miles away from pickled beetroot in a jar.
4 whole beetroot
A sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic
4 pigeon breasts
500ml chicken stock.
Trim the stalks and leaves from the beetroot and scrub them well.
Cut any large ones in half so all the beets are roughly the same size.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.
Put the beetroot in a roasting tray, bash the garlic and add it followed by the thyme.
Pour over a large glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for at least 45 minutes, turning halfway through.
Meanwhile pan fry the pigeon breasts for 4 minutes on each side and then leave to one side to rest.
When the beetroot is ready remove it from the roasting tray.
Move the tray onto a hot hob and deglaze with some of the stock.
Reduce the stock down to a gravy and add the resting juices from the pigeon.
Serve the pigeon breasts with the beetroot, sliced into quarters and the gravy (asparagus is optional).