Back in August, Bar Brosé hosted a lunch showcasing dynamic, natural wines from the south-west of France. From the event emerged a winning dish that came about as organically as the wines poured on the day.
“We came up with the idea for this dish purely to match a wine we were serving at a wine lunch with [distributor] Campbell Burton,” says head chef of Bar Brosé, Analiese Gregory. “It was a spritzy, earthy red from the Loire and our sommelier at the time suggested earthy vegetables as a match.”
Taking wine as a starting point for a dish is not the way Gregory generally works, but it’s a process that for her produces some of the best dishes. Why? “It actually narrows down all of your potential options and makes you concentrate on something particular.”
The remaining components followed on from an effort to turn trash into a treasure. “I've been trying to reduce the waste we generate in the kitchen, including vegetable waste – so finding new ways to use trimmings and leftovers,” says Gregory. Green leek tops are charred and ground to ash adding a dark, smoky finish to the honey dressing. Down the road at sister restaurant, Acme, egg yolks are used to make pasta and the whites travel three blocks to Bar Brosé to form the basis of the salt dough.
By taking the time to bake beetroot in a salt-crust – a method traditionally reserved for animal proteins – Gregory tells us you get a perfectly seasoned beetroot, rich and robust in both colour and flavour. “Just make sure you pick medium-sized beetroots,” she adds. “Too small and they can become too salty.”
Get it right and this dish is a finger-licking alloy of sweet, earthy and salty with just a hint of acid.
Bar Brosé’s Salt-Baked Beetroot
175g egg whites
500g cooking salt
4 medium-sized beetroots, washed
50ml pomegranate molasses
50ml olive oil
2 egg yolks
80ml honey vinegar
150ml vegetable oil
150ml olive oil
20g honey (I prefer a strong and unfiltered natural honey such as J. Friend & Co wild thyme honey or a high-quality eucalyptus or manuka honey)
20g leek ash
Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
Gently break-down egg whites with a whisk and mix with salt until a smooth paste forms. Place beetroots on a baking tray and cover with salt mix. Bake for two to three hours or until beets are very soft. Leave to cool, then smash open salt crust, remove beetroots, peel and cut into wedges. Mix with pomegranate molasses and olive oil.
Place the egg yolks, salt and vinegar in a blender and gently combine. Add the oils in a thin stream to achieve an emulsion, then finish off with the honey and ash. Check the seasoning.
Make a small pool of the ash mayo and spread outwards using a spoon. Place the beetroots on top and garnish with a small amount of fennel pollen and fennel tips.