Beetroot and Biltong Fritters
Beetroot and biltong not only sound good together but also make for memorable eating.
This harmonious match draws on the sweet smoky notes of air dried, prime Welsh beef and the candied, earthy flavours of beetroot.
This is a favourite dish in my home as it makes for a swift supper when time is short. I like to serve it with a fresh herb and tomato salsa or a homemade garlic mayonnaise, buoyed up with crisp green salad and chunks of sourdough. Enjoy the fritters hot, sizzling from the pan or reserve your left-overs for a satisfying lunch the following day. Sweet slivers of biltong melt in the mouth, the sweetness enhanced by beetroot, caramelised in the heat. The addition of polenta, rather than a regular wheat flour to bind, brings a crunch to the fry and incidentally, like the biltong, is gluten free.
Makes eight fritters
40g pack From our Farm biltong, finely sliced (I used the chilli biltong for extra heat)
2 beetroot, peeled, grated and drained (this yields approximately 225g)
400g tin chick peas, drained (this yields approximately 225g)
Big handful fresh basil
2 spring onions, chopped
1 egg, large and free range
50g polenta flour
½ tsp baking powder (check gluten free, if required)
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to season
Vegetable oil to fry (I used coconut oil as it has a high smoke point and pairs well with the beetroot)
Peel and grate the beetroot. You may like to wear plastic gloves to protect your hands from staining. Place the beetroot into a mixing bowl and firmly squeeze out excess juice, then drain.
Transfer the beetroot into a food processor, along with the basil, chickpeas, polenta flour, spring onions and baking powder. Season well. Blitz the mixture using the pulse setting – you need to retain texture to the mix and not create a puree. If you don’t have a food processor, you may roughly chop the basil and spring onions before adding to the mix and lightly crush the chickpeas using a potato masher.
Tip the breadcrumb-like mixture into a bowl. Separately, beat the egg and add it to the mix along with the finely sliced biltong, which adds a welcome texture and definitive flavour when eating.
Pour a generous amount of vegetable oil into a frying pan so that it is roughly 1cm deep. Once the oil has heated, briefly fry a small amount of mix to test for seasoning. If you need to add more salt to the mix, now is the time to do so. When you are happy with your seasoning, scoop a good handful of mix and roll between your palms into a compact ball. Gently flatten and place in the pan, listening for a sizzle. You may fry up to four or five fritters at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden in colour and cooked right through.
Transfer the fritters onto kitchen towel as you work and enjoy hot with a crisp green salad.