Friday, 4 May 2012

Beetroot, Celeriac and Red Onion Rosti

This is going to be one of my worst blog posts in the whole (year long) history of this blog. Not that the food wasn't tasty - it was - nor because I'd never make it again - I'm already planning to. But because I didn't follow a recipe, didn't know what I was doing, and it didn't really work properly. Has that whetted your appetite to read further?

The thing is, our fridge seemed to be overflowing with beetroot and I was getting bored of roasting it. Celeriac and red onion were also getting perilously near the end of their natural lives. I wanted to combine them all but didn't quite fancy a magenta mash, and a gratin seemed gratuitously greedy (how's that for alliteration?). Then, like a flash of bright pink lightning, the idea of a rosti popped into my head. Genius, don't you think? Admittedly, I'd never made a rosti before, and I didn't really take the time to look up a recipe but come on. We had a food processor to do the difficult bit - pow pow pow and I'd have a whole heap of shredded veg. Then all I had to do was cook it. How hard could it be?

Ha! Well, the first thing you should know is that I was wrong. As it turns out, cooking my downfall here. I tried two ways, on two successive nights, and neither really worked - my beautiful shredded beetroot showed no inclination whatsoever to hold a shape. Does anyone know how to make this stuff stick together? Should I have used an egg, or squeezed out the juice, or chilled it first, or what? What do you mean, "maybe you should have followed a recipe"?

The main thing here is that this worked just enough that I could see a proper version of this would really be something special, and definitely worthy of your attention. We ate it with poached salmon one night and sausages the next and each time, it was delicious - if I may say so, particularly inspired with the salmon. But it just didn't quite work as well as I know it could, and I really want to try again. Please help me, people of the internet! I've almost scrubbed the pink off my hands, it must be time to try again.

Beetroot, Celeriac and Red Onion Rosti
Serves 4 - easy to halve if you're not that hungry
- 2 raw beetroot, peeled
- 1 medium celeriac, peeled
- 2 red onions, peeled
- 2 teaspoons of creamed horseradish
- 2 heaped tablespoons of flour
- salt and pepper (big pinches of each)
- drizzle of olive oil
This is basically a chance to play with your food processor - if you haven't got one, it'd take days and days of your life to chop it all up so I'd say just cook mash instead. With the machinery, put in the grating blade (I went for coarse but fine would have been better, I think) and just bung in all the veg, bash bash bash, down they go. Ta-dah! Shredded.

This is where this stops being a recipe and starts being a discussion of what I did which didn't really work. I didn't squeeze out the juice because I didn't have a clean teatowel that I was happy to turn pink, but it might have been a good idea. I just decanted it all to a big bowl and mixed in the flour, horseradish, salt and pepper and oil. Other additions might be nice too - maybe some dill, chives or parsley? Replace the horseradish with mustard? I didn't add an egg, but it might have been helpful in getting it to hold together - what do you think?
I tried two different ways of cooking it, as you can see in these photos. The first night, I shaped it into small patties and put them in a hot, oiled frying pan - all well and good until I tried to turn them and they just fell to bits. So I added more of the mix to make one big (frying-pan sized) rosti, cooked for a few minutes more on the hob then put in the oven for 10-15 minutes to cook through. Result: delicious, but not entirely what I was going for.

The second night, I shaped handfuls of the shredded veg into small rounds, put them on a lined baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and baked for 15-20 minutes. They still fell apart, and were not quite as delicious as the part-fried ones - although still very tasty.

So I'm afraid I don't really have any suggestions - just a whole load of questions. What should I have done? Does anyone have a failsafe method? 


  1. Potato rosti you boil the potatoes in their skins, then grate and let the steam come out. Then you sort of squish them together, and can use a bit of fried onion in there, and then they just stay in patties for frying. I think it's the starch that holds them together? So you'd need a binding ingredient like egg or a bit of potato to hold them together. Like fishcakes - just potato and fish and they hold together, or you can add in egg.
    Lovely colours though, even though they crumbled!

  2. Aha that makes sense. Maybe it would have worked better if I'd cooked it all first, as well? Hmm.


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