Sous-Vide Beetroots, with Herb Crusted Lamb and Lettuce Sauce...

Beetroot, with herb crusted
lamb, lettuce sauce and jus
Ever since I first saw candy beetroot (the one's with the pink rings) and golden beetroot, I've been obsessed with showcasing their beautiful colours.  Needless to say, as soon as you try to cook them, they tend to lose their colour, or their colour bleeds into everything else - saving that colour has become a bit of a holy grail for me.  Usually I've resorted to serving them raw, which isn't exactly a hardship.  However, on The Great British Menu, the lovely Simon Rogan sliced his very finely, and cooked them sous vide in a water bath... That's been in the back of my mind ever since.

Eleven Maddison Park's Beetroot Salad
On a recent trip to Eleven Madison Park they were served very simply, with fennel pollen - and the colour and the integrity of the beetroot was preserved perfectly - I assume they too cook them sous vide...

Whilst I'm perfectly comfortable with cooking them in a water bath, it's actually the sous vide bit that's been bothering me lately.  I have a pretty average desktop vacuum packer, and it's really beginning to limit what I can achieve with my Grant water bath - liquids are really problematic with such a basic machine.  I've been coveting a chamber vacuum machine, but they're certainly not the cheapest, and I wouldn't exactly be using it every day.

When I managed to finally harvest some beetroot from my poor water-logged garden, I really wanted to give the sous vide method a go.  I peeled the beetroot lightly,  sliced them, and vacuum packed them with some very cold butter (which again I reasoned wouldn't seep out of the pack, and cause me problems with my machine).

A quick search on-line gave me an average range of 80-83°C, for a minimum of 1½ hours, and as with most sous vide ingredients, longer cooking wouldn't necessarily be a problem...  I plumped for 82°C.

I thought I'd serve them with a herb crusted loin of lamb, bringing some earthiness to the sweet grassy lamb, and with a lettuce sauce...

Lettuce Sauce (from Tom Kitchin's book)
4 baby gem lettuce roughly chopped
1 onion thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
pinch of salt
250 ml chicken stock
250 ml whipping cream (had no cream left - used creme fraiche - little tart but just as delicious)

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add salt and quickly blanch the baby gem in the boiling water for 30 seconds.  Carefully remove and immediately shock in a bowl of iced water for two minutes.  Squeeze out any excess moisture and set aside in the fridge.

In the meantime, slowly sweat the onion in a heavy bottomed pot with vegetable oil and a pinch of salt. Once the onions are soft (with no colour) add the chicken stock and cream.  Reduce by almost two-fiths and transfer to a blender.  Add the chilled lettuce and blitz for 5 minutes or until smooth.  Set aside.

For the herb crust (there are several examples on the BBC web site)
200g fresh white bread (actually, I used about 100g of panko breadcrumbs)
2 tbsps chopped flatleaf parsley
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
4 tbsp vegetable oil
100g/4oz unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 lamb loins

To prepare the herb crust, break the bread into large pieces and place in a food processor or blender and turn into fine crumbs.  Add the herbs and garlic and blitz for a further 30 seconds.

Heat some butter and oil in pan until foaming, but not coloured. Season the loins, and sear in the pan.  Remove and brush with mustard (in my case - a basil infused dijon), roll the in the herb breadcrumbs, and cook in the oven for a further seven minutes at 200°C.  Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

You can see that the candy beetroot still lost some of its distinctive rings, but the flavour was very good.  The golden retained its colour evenly!  I plated it with lardons, broad beans and peas scattered over the beetroot, the lettuce sauce under the lamb, and the jus drizzled over the dish.  Yummy!

You can find more of Tom's amazing recipes here: