I ate a drunk gourmet hotdog in Melbourne a few weekends ago, and developed a serious fixation for beetroot relish. I may have been four cocktails down, but I was sober enough to know the spicy grated beetroot relish was out of this world and needed to be recreated at all costs.
I took to googling recipes for beetroot relish on the bus in the weeks following my discovery. Only I kept getting distracted by the lush photos of beetroot, and never really made it past the first google search result. Then I finally decided to recreate it. All credit to Not Quite Nigella for the recipe. All credit to me for wherever I messed it up.
- beetroots (obviously)
- an onion
- olive oil
- yellow mustard seeds
- apple cider vinegar
So I bought a bunch of beetroots from IGA. It was the last bunch on the shelf and everything. I cooed to the lady at the checkout about how beautiful the beetroots were. I told her I was making beetroot relish. She reacted poorly.
This was all meant to be for dinner, but I didn’t factor in it actually takes like two hours to roast beetroots in the oven and it was already 9pm. But I proceeded with the exercise nonetheless. I was pretty geed up about the relish.
So I roasted the beetroots. I washed them, cut off the ends, and wrapped them each in aluminium foil with a slab of butter, plus salt and pepper.
Then I tried to kill time for an hour while they roasted, which was hard because everyone who roasts beetroots knows the best bit is peeling off the skin after they’re cooked, and I was pretty keen to get into it. So I twiddled my thumbs, washed some stockings, refreshed my twitter feed, and finally got the beetroots out of the oven around 10:30.
I had the brilliant idea of making a vine of my face while peeling the beetroots, but I really was just way too keen and went for it with no record of the exercise. If you’ve never peeled a roasted beetroot before, you haven’t lived.
I chopped the beetroots elaborately into small pieces because I was too tired to get out the food processor and stubbornly thought I could just do it myself. It was fine. I wanted a chunky relish anyway. It’s all in the chunk, I swear.
Then I followed instructions to heat up a teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds in a medium saucepan on high. I got nervous because the recipe says they’ll start to pop, and mine just lay there. So that was weird. I carried on as if it never happened. I put in the oil, and fried the chopped onion in the bottom of the saucepan with the mustard seeds.
Then I added Everything Else: the chopped beetroot, about 3/4 cup of brown sugar (for added caramelisation), 3/4 cup of water, four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon-ish of allspice and cinnamon. I stirred the mixture, watched it develop into relish, smiled.
I washed out an old jar of instant coffee, and spooned it in with an ice-cream scoop. I found a blue gingham ribbon and tied it around the jar to make it look twee like the jar of relish on Not Quite Nigella. It looked pretty convincing. I was chuffed.
I ate it with a spoon, died a little, obsessed over it, thought about texting Miranda. Drunk Melbourne fantasies were realised. Life went on, a little more relish-y than before.