"Martin Benn’s culinary credo echoes the famous Hunter S. Thomson quote -“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” There are no shades of beige in this imaginative dish which is Martin’s ode to that magic combination of beetroot and chèvre. Each component requires kitchen wizardry and some clever devices like dehydrators... but many of these ideas are within the realm of the home cook such as the rye crumb dipped in beetroot and the different temperatures at which the components are served …all adding up to a symphony of earthy flavour in exquisite mouthfuls from one of Australia’s top chefs." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
You may be well aware of the dynamic beetroot and goat's cheese combo and Sepia's Martin Benn takes that love to a whole new level in this textural delight.
House made chèvre
- 3 litres fresh goat’s milk
- 1 sachet C20G culture (mesophilic) (see Note)
- Few drops calcium chloride
- 15 g salt
- 4 kg trimmed medium beetroots, peeled and chopped
- 20 g sherry vinegar
- 20 g sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) beetroot reduction (see above)
- 25 g kuzu starch
- 2 x 30 cm squares acetate
Beetroot rye crumb
- 10 slices seeded rye bread, crust removed
- 300 ml beetroot reduction (see above)
Goat’s milk foam crisp
- 1 litre goat’s milk, aged for 4 days in the refrigerator
- 1 litre full fat milk
- 120 g liquid glucose
Beetroot rye mix
- 200 g beetroot rye crumb (see above)
- 10 g beetroot glass (see above)
- 5 g milk foam crisp (see above)
- 375 g trimmed beetroot, peeled and diced
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 2 g salt
- 1 g xanthan gum (see note)
- sherry vinegar, to taste
Rhubarb juice reduction
- 3 bunches rhubarb, washed
- 200 g sugar
- 500 ml (2 cups) rhubarb juice reduction (see above)
- 6 g agar
- 1 g sodium citrate
- 300 g beetroot juice (see above)
- 2.8 g agar
- 50 purple linaria flowers
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For this recipe, you will need a dehydrator, a high speed blender, a digital thermometer and a sous vide machine.
Standing time 2 days
For the house made chèvre, place the milk in a saucepan over low heat and bring to 32°C.
Remove from the heat, then add the culture, calcium chloride and salt and stir well for 30 seconds. Place the milk into a clean sterilised container and stand at 22°C for around 16 hours. Pour the mixture into a sieve lined with muslin or cheesecloth, placed over a bowl and leave to drain for 2-3 hours. Once drained, pass the fresh cheese through a drum sieve, then place into piping bags. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2 days to mature before using.
For the beetroot reduction, place the beetroot into a Thermomix or high speed blender and blend until pureed. Pass the pulp through an oil filter or clean tea towel and squeeze out as much of the juice as possible into a saucepan. This should give you around 3 litres beetroot juice. Add the vinegar and sugar and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Makes 1.5 litres.
For the beetroot glass, place 200 ml of the cooled beetroot reduction into a medium saucepan. Dilute the kuzu starch in the remaining 50 ml reduction, then stir into the pan. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously with a spatula. Lay the acetate sheets onto a bench top. Spread the beetroot gel over the acetate as thinly and evenly as possible, about 1 mm-thick. Place the acetate sheets into a dehydrator, then dehydrate at 60°C for 48 hours or until dry and crisp. Keep in the dehydrator or an airtight container until required.
For the beetroot rye, pour the beetroot reduction into a shallow container. Add the slices of rye bread one at a time and leave to soak for 40 seconds. Drain the rye and place into a dehydrator, then dehydrate at 60°C for 48 hours. Once dry, place the rye into a pestle and mortar and crush into a fine crumb. Store in an airtight container until required.
For the goat’s milk foam crisp, preheat the oven to 90°C (ensure there is no humidity and no fan). Pour both the milks and the glucose into a heavy-based medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using a hand held electric whisk, whisk the milk until it foams and holds its volume. Spoon onto a baking paper-lined baking tray and place into the oven for 1 hour or until dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container until required.
For the beetroot rye mix, place the rye into a bowl. Crush up the beetroot glass and the milk foam crisp to a fine crumb. Mix all together in the bowl. Store in an air-tight container until required.
For the beetroot butter, place the diced beetroot into a sous vide vacuum bag along with the diced butter and salt. Seal on full, then cook at 90°C for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove the bag from the steamer and open the bag. Drain the beetroot form the cooking liquor, reserving the butter. Add the drained beetroot to a high speed blender. Pour the drained butter into a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until all the milk solids are cooked off and the butter is clear. Start blending the beetroot and slowly add back the butter. Add the xanthan gum and blend until the beetroot is smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and vinegar, then chill in the refrigerator until required.
For the rhubarb juice reduction, wash and remove the green leaves from the rhubarb.
Cut the rhubarb into 2-3 cm lengths, then place into a Thermomix or high speed blender and process until completely juiced. Pass the rhubarb through an oil filter or a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much juice as possible to obtain 1 litre of rhubarb juice. Place the juice and sugar into a heavy-based large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Skim away the scum from the surface and simmer until the juice has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the rhubarb gel, pour the rhubarb juice reduction into a clean medium saucepan. Add the agar and sodium citrate, then bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 30 seconds, then strain the syrup into a container. Refrigerate until set. Once set, blend the gel in a high speed blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve. Place the rhubarb gel into vacuum bags and vacuum on full. Store in the refrigerator until required.
For the beetroot jellies, pour the beetroot juice into a pan and add the agar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 seconds. Remove from the heat. Pour 150 ml into each of 2 trays measuring about 24 cm x 18 cm x 2 cm deep - it should be no thicker than about 2 mm. Leave to set at room temperature. Once set, place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until fully set. Cut 8 x 8 cm diameter circles of the jelly and place onto a baking paper-lined tray. Cover with plastic film, then store in the refrigerator until required.
To assemble, pipe a 5 cm circle of goat’s cheese chèvre onto the centre of each plate. Spoon a little rhubarb gel into the centre of the chèvre. Place the beetroot jelly over the top of the chèvre and the rhubarb so that they are encapsulated by the jelly. Warm the beetroot butter to 50˚C, then spoon over the jelly to cover. Sprinkle the rye crumb over the beetroot butter evenly to coat. Place the Linaria flowers around the outside and serve immediately.
• Xanthum gum is a natural thickener and stabilizer made from a range of simple sugars. Available from health food stores or online.