Monday, 21 January 2013

Mackerel with pureed and pickled beetroot, smoked mackerel pate, apple and horseradish

For this monday lunch I have gone back to an old favourite, mackerel. I have cooked some fairly long winded recipes for the last few blog posts, so this time I wanted to do something a little less time consuming for a light and tasty lunch. 

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has recently championed the use of three key ingredients as the formula of a great dish, and this recipe goes along those lines. The combination of mackerel, beetroot and horseradish has been tried and tested and works so well, with the oily mackerel, sweet beetroot and the hot horseradish. The only thing that I have introduced are a couple of different ways of preparing the fish and beets to make the finished dish a little more interesting. 

Recently I have been really into focussing on a few ingredients and using them in different processes in the same dish. I have done this previously on this blog with lamb and salmon recipes, and I like how you can achieve a variety of tastes and textures within a meal. In this dish the beetroot adds both sweet and smooth elements in the puree and sharp and crunchy when pickled. With the mackerel, the fried fillet gives the cooked heat whilst the pate gives a smokey, creamy backnote. The horseradish is not a dominant flavour, like everything else it just balances with the other ingredients. The apple with the pickles gives much needed refreshment, and can be combined with mackerel to make a dish in their own right. 

Serves 2 


1 large mackerel, filleted and pin boned
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper

For the beetroot puree:

2 beetroots
2 garlic cloves
5 sprigs thyme
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp butter
Salt and pepper

For the smoked mackerel pate:

1 smoked mackerel fillet, skin and bones removed
2 spring onions
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp horseradish, finely grated
2 tbsp cottage cheese
2 lemons, juice only
Salt and pepper

For the pickled beetroot:

1 white or golden beetroot, peeled and finely diced
250ml white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
5 sprigs thyme
10 peppercorns
1/4 braeburn apple, finely diced
1 tsp horseradish, finely grated
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

For the peashoots:

1 handful peashoots
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper

To serve:

Hot bread and butter

The first thing to make is the beetroot puree. Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC. Put the unpeeled beetroot, garlic cloves and thyme sprigs into a small oven dish and rub with a little olive oil and seasoning. Seal with kitchen foil and put into the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

To make the pickled beetroot, put the white wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, thyme and peppercorns into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. When hot add the finely diced white or golden beetroot and cook for 2 minutes. Spoon the beetroot into a bowl with a little of the pickling liquid and allow to cool. When cool, drain the liquid away and mix in the apple, horseradish, lemon, olive oil and salt. Taste and set aside. 

Now make smoked mackerel pate. Put the spring onions and butter into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the smoked mackerel, horseradish, lemons, cottage cheese and seasoning and mix again until everything is combined. Remove from the mixer, taste and add horseradish, salt or lemon as required. Set aside. 

Make the dressing for the peashoots by mixing the lemon juice with the extra virgin olive oil and seasoning. Set aside to dress at the last minute.

The roasted beetroot is cooked when they can be easily pierced by a knife. Peel the beets whilst they are still hot then put into a food processor with the butter, thyme leaves, sugar and seasoning. Blitz well then taste and adjust the seasoning. Pass the puree through a sieve and keep warm. 

Put a large non-stick frying pan onto a medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Cut the mackerel fillets into 3 pieces and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season well on both sides and then place skin side down into the frying pan, pressing down for a couple of seconds to stop them from curling. Fry for 3 minutes on the skin side then carefully flip over. Add the butter and take the pan off the heat. The fish will finish cooking in the residual heat while you plate up. 

Spoon a little of the puree onto the middle of each plate and top with the mackerel pieces. Quenelle the pate and the pickled beetroot and add around the fish. Dress the peashoots in a little of the dressing and arrange on top of the mackerel. 

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