Salt-baked Parsnips with Golden Beetroot and Jersey Milk Curd Cheese
Salt-baked Parsnips with Golden Beetroot and Jersey Milk Curd Cheese

Salt-baked Parsnips with Golden Beetroot and Jersey Milk Curd Cheese

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    Serves 8 as a starter or light lunch
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I like to make fresh curd cheese every now and then, so when I do get the offer of some raw Jersey milk I jump at the chance to make curd cheese. If you do not have access to raw milk, then buy pasteurised Jersey milk as it contains a good amount of cream and is very tasty. Standard full-fat milk will also do.

The salt-baked parsnips are great. I have done other ingredients in the same crust before, such as sea trout, salmon, mackerel, celeriac and beetroot, and it’s a great cooking method as the salt crust steam-roasts the contents inside and the seasoning penetrates the food, resulting in a tasty, succulent and well seasoned dish inside (you can’t eat the salt crust). It’s definitely worth the effort.

I pickle almost anything I can find, so the pickled parsnips here add a lovely, interesting texture and taste element to this wonderful of Salt-baked Parsnips with Golden Beetroot and Jersey Milk Curd Cheese

Ingredients & Method

For the Jersey milk curd cheese

  • 1 litre raw full-fat Jersey milk (or use pasteurised Jersey milk, if raw is not available)
  • 75ml lemon juice
  • 1
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

For the golden beetroot

  • 1kg golden beetroot (medium size is best)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole but slightly crushed
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the salt-baked parsnips

  • 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 400g table salt
  • 180g egg whites (approximately 6 egg whites)
  • 150ml cold water (you might need a bit more to form an easy-to-use dough)
  • 24 Piccolo (baby) parsnips, washed, skin left on
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

For the pickled parsnips

  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced very thinly using a mandoline (about 1?2mm-thick slices)

To garnish and serve

  • 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
  • 150g trompette de la mort mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • micro watercress
  • 8 roasted pecan nut halves

First prepare the curd cheese. Place the milk, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan over a low heat and place a thermometer in the milk. Heat the milk to 80°C, stirring once or twice to prevent the milk from catching (but don’t stir it too much).

Remove from the heat and leave to cool at room temperature for 2 hours. Double-line a colander with muslin. Ladle the mixture carefully into the lined colander set over a bowl, then leave it to drain naturally for 1 hour. Hang the muslin in the fridge (with a bowl underneath to catch any drips) and leave it to drain further overnight.

The following day, discard the whey (runny, milky liquid in the bowl), then remove the curd cheese from the muslin and pack it into a clean Kilner jar, levelling the surface. Cover the surface with the oil and thyme leaves, seal the jar and refrigerate for 1 day before using. The fresh curd is then ready to use and it will keep in the sealed Kilner jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

The next day, continue with the rest of the recipe. First prepare the golden beetroot (see also Chef’s Kitchen Secret). Preheat the oven to 120°C/Gas Mark ½. Peel the beetroot and place on a large piece of non-stick baking paper. Add the garlic, thyme, oil and salt and pepper, then wrap the paper around the ingredients to make a parcel. Wrap the parcel in foil, place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 1½ hours until the beetroot is cooked.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool (still wrapped up). Remove the cooled beetroot from the wrappings (discard the thyme stalks and garlic), then use a Parisienne scoop/melon baller to scoop balls from the cooked beetroot. Set aside until needed. The beetroot is best served at room temperature.

For the salt-baked parsnips, preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and set aside. Make the dough by mixing the flour, salt, egg whites and water together in an electric stand mixer using a dough hook. Mix for 3 minutes until combined, then turn out on to a work surface dusted with flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle about 2-cm thick. Place the whole parsnips and thyme sprigs in the centre of the dough and then fold the edges of the dough over to form a sealed parcel. Place the parcel on the lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully crack the baked crust with a serrated knife, being careful not to cut into the parsnips inside. Remove the cooked parsnips from the crust, then discard the crust and thyme stalks. The salt-baked parsnips can be served either warm, at room temperature or chilled – my preference is at room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the pickled parsnips. Place the vinegar, sugar and coriander seeds in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat and boil rapidly for 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the sliced parsnips, season to taste and then set aside until needed (see Chef’s Note).

When you are ready to serve, make the garnish. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and sauté the mushrooms, with salt and pepper added, for about 2 minutes until cooked. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

To serve, arrange dollops of the curd cheese on the serving plates, drape over a few pickled parsnip slices (and drizzle over a little pickling liquid), add the balls of beetroot and salt-baked parsnips, then garnish with the sautéed mushrooms and micro watercress. Use a microplane to grate over the roasted pecan nuts and then serve.

Chef’s Kitchen Secret
For steam-roasted golden beetroot, preheat the oven to 120°C/Gas Mark ½. Peel the beetroots and place them in a vacuum bag with the rest of the ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper. Seal on hard vacuum, then place in a large roasting tray (gastro tray) with another one covering the top. Roast in the oven for 1½ hours until the beetroot is cooked.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the vacuum bag. Remove the cooled beetroot from the bag, then use a Parisienne scoop/melon baller to scoop balls from the cooked beetroot. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

Chef’s Note
Any leftover pickled parsnips will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days (the same applies to any leftover golden beetroot balls).