Thursday, 10 March 2011

Off the beeton track


This is my blind interpretation of a favourite starter item from O Monte Velho, a very popular Portuguese hunting lodge. It´s hidden away in the hills around Santa Caterina,if you are lucky enough to find it. Its also a much frequented haunt of Casa Rosada´s when we are lucky enough to have a day off.The cooking of Dona Ana Lidia, for me, is probably the most innovative of all the Portuguese hostelries I have ever visited.She tempers her food with spices not applied elsewhere by her counterparts.Her partridge with chestnuts is aromatized with Star Anise for instance.Rabbit with pennyroyal and mashed potatoes topped with duck and blackberry compote.You need to order your chosen dishes in advance with your reservation.So, you will also need to be in possession of one of her menus so you can make your selections. The menu is your doorway to a restaurant of enchantment.
    
                                              Reservas: Tlm. 961 253 727  Tlm. 967 091 015

Betteraba pudding Pudim betteraba
serves 6-8
This makes a a dazzling and delicious starter or part of a selection of dips served with a creamy fresh mild goats cheese, Serrano ham and rustic country bread.It has a sweet- sour sharpness and the earthiness of beetroots roasted in their skins.
serve warm or cold
3 medium-sized beetroots
3 tomatoes skinned and seeded
1 teaspoon olive oil
150g/ 5oz onions peeled and thinly sliced
1clove of garlic peeled and crushed
6 desertspoons of good quality sherry vinegar
Valdespino, Lustau or Pedro Ximenez
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon double cream, optional
150ml / 5fl oz hot chicken stock
Flat leaf parsley

Wash and trim the beetroots. leaving the roots intact so the colour doesn´t bleed. bake them in individual foil parcels in a medium oven until cooked, pierce with a skewer after 45 minutes. Skin and slice them thinly as soon as they´re cool enough to handle. Chop the tomatoes coarsely.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic gently until softened but not coloured. Pour over the vinegar, and add the tomato,beetroot slices and seasoning.Cook with alid on very gently for an hour. Check the moisture level from time to time. liquidize, or blitz in a food processor for a slightly coarser purée, with the stock. If you go for the cream option you will lose some of the deliciously deep colour that gives the dish its dramatic effect.If serving warm,keep in a bowl over simmering water until you are ready to serve.

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