This dish marries some really great flavour combinations: the sharp, sweet apple with the earthy beetroot; the apple playing with the celery notes of the celeriac; the nuttiness and crunch of the hazelnuts tying it all together. The sugar and sherry vinegar glaze gives a sweet-and-sour effect. Celeriac is related to celery but the flavour is more earthy and less pronounced. It is quite ugly, but tastes much better than it looks! To prepare it, cut into quarters and peel; it will be easier to handle this way than it is when whole. We bake beetroots with the skins on as it is easier to peel them when they are cooked; you can just push the skins off with your fingers (wear gloves if you like, as they stain). This dish would be great with a big bowl of roast potatoes instead of the mash on a winter’s day – that way you could have the spuds in the oven at the same time as the beetroot.
6 golfball-sized beetroots
3 large potatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large head of celeriac
50g unsalted butter
100g hazelnuts, smashed up a bit
150ml sunflower oil
2 Braeburn apples
40g soft brown sugar
50ml sherry vinegar (or balsamic vinegar if you don’t have that)
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Tightly wrap the beetroots in foil and put them on a baking tray. Bake for 50 minutes, turning halfway. Check they are cooked by piercing with a knife; there should be no resistance.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the dish. Peel the potatoes and chop into about 3cm chunks, but don’t be too fussy.
Choose a large pan; you are going to add the celeriac to this pan but it cooks quicker than the potatoes, so they need a head start. Fill it with water and add a sprinkle of salt. Add the potatoes to the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Peel the celeriac and chop into chunks about the same size as the potatoes. Add them to the pan with the potatoes and top up the water if necessary. The flavour of the celeriac will permeate the potatoes.
After about 10 minutes, check the vegetables to make sure they are cooked; they should be soft but not mushy. Drain and mash.
Add the butter, season and put back over a low heat to help evaporate the moisture, as celeriac can get quite waterlogged in the pan. Keep an eye on it; it won’t burn if you stir it occasionally. This is good to remember when you have potatoes which are quite mushy; 5 to 10 minutes over a low heat is usually enough to evaporate the water. Set the mash aside to reheat in the same way later.
Put the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan and cook them until they are golden, being careful as they may catch. As soon as they are browned, add the sunflower oil, remove from the heat and allow to cool and infuse. Remove and decant into a small bowl. Don’t wash up the frying pan just yet – save yourself a job.
When the beetroots are cooked, remove the foil and leave until cool enough to handle, then slice off the tops and bottoms, peel and cut each into four wedges.
Without peeling, cut the apples into halves, core them, then cut each half into four. Keep to one side.
Wipe out the hazelnut frying pan with kitchen paper. Add the sugar, set over a low heat and let it gently melt. As it starts to melt, add the vinegar; be careful, don’t let the sugar burn. Also try not to inhale the pungent steam; the vinegar fumes will burn your nostrils.
Now add the apples and move the slices around the pan to cook and glaze them at the same time. As they start to soften, add the beetroots to glaze also, and season. They should end up a bit sticky. If they don’t, cook for a little longer so the juices evaporate.
To serve, reheat the celeriac mash and divide between plates. Top with the glazed beetroots and apples and sprinkle over the hazelnut oil.