Winter Beet Tartare
This is a very easy and delicious dish to prepare over the winter for family and friends. Here we’ve used a star cookie cutter mold to create a shape for the beets to rest on the ricotta cheese. But you can use any shape you want, or none, and just pile the beets on top of the cheese.
We took two different preparations of the beets to create the tartare. One is baked and one is raw.
Find the freshest beets you can, and cut the ends off to make a nice smooth end. Then either with a mandolin or sharp knife, slice each beet into pieces slightly under a quarter inch. But you can make them any thickness. The smaller the slice, the more tartare like it is. Then take each slice and cut into matchsticks, then those matchsticks into small cubes. Divide the beet cubes into two storage vessels. We prefer to marinate one bowl of beets overnight in Tawny Port wine. This adds a depthness and more sweet flavors to the beets. Before you are going to create the dish give yourself some time to bake this bowl of beets. Drain them off the Port wine and place single layer on a silpat or parchment paper cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees till they are soft and slightly caramelized, up to 40 minutes.
The other bowl we marinate from 1-4 hours before we are ready to serve. We use more of a vinegar based marinade for these, as this batch will be served raw, and the crispness of the beets, with the sharp flavors of the marinate counterbalance the sweetness of the others. Mix the marinade together before adding to the beets to so you can adjust the intensity. We use about 6 Tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar, a few dashes of Balsamic and 2 Tablespoons of Champagne Vinegar. Also add a few dashes of good quality olive oil. Taste it and add any of more of one ingredient to help add some zip to the raw beets.
For the Ricotta snow, add lemon zest, sea salt, and chopped chives to the ricotta and mix thoroughly. Adjust to taste any of the above ingredients. You want it to be a nice creamy rich balance with a bit of a zing to complement the beets.
Make a smear of the ricotta on the plate just slightly bigger than the form mold you are using. Place the mold in the center of the ricotta and add enough of the baked beets on the bottom to cover the inside of the mold, and then add the raw beets from the vinegar marinade on top of those. Remove the mold and sprinkle with raw cauliflower “rice” This adds another crisp element as well another fun raw bite to the dish.
Feel free to play with any of these ingredients for your own palate. And most of all enjoy!!
For a fun wine pairing you want to offset and complement the richness and earthiness of this dish. For whites I would recommend a Pinot Gris from Alsace, France or a semi-dry Riesling from Germany. For reds, anything from Sicily, Nerello Mascalese or Nero D’ Avola; as well as a nice Syrah from the Central Coast of California.