Smoked beetroot with yoghurt and caramelised macadamias

January 2022

For those, like me, who can't rely on being given a home smoker this Christmas, you can build your own approximation with just a roll of tin foil and a big wok or pan for which you have a lid. A timer is essential, because the flavour will become too intense if smoked for too long; a smoke detector is optional (but advisable). Serves four.

250g long-grain rice
Shaved peel of 1 lemon
5 sprigs fresh thyme
12 medium beetroots, skin on
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
Salt and black pepper
35g caster sugar
50g macadamia nuts
150g Greek yoghurt
½ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
5g picked coriander leaves

Heat the oven to its highest setting – 240C/465F/gas mark 9 at least, preferably 250C. Line a large sauté pan or wok with two large sheets of tin foil, leaving the edges generously overhanging the sides. Add the rice, lemon peel and thyme, and stir through two tablespoons of water. Sit the beetroots on top of the rice and seal the pan with a large lid. Draw up the tin foil and fold it back over the lid, to completely seal the beets and lid in foil; any gaps will hamper the smoking process.

Put the pan over a very high flame on the stove top and, once you see a little bit of smoke coming through – after three or four minutes – leave to smoke for exactly eight minutes, then remove from the heat.

Discard the rice, lemon peel and thyme, transfer the beets to a baking tray and roast in the hot oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a sharp knife goes in easily. Remove, set aside to cool, then peel off the charred skin.

Cut the beets into 2mm-thick slices and put them in a large bowl with the maple syrup, a tablespoon of olive oil, half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Mix together and set aside.

Turn down the oven to 140C/285F/gas mark 1. Put the nuts on a roasting tray, bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Meanwhile, line another tray with parchment paper. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and cook on a gentle heat; don't stir as the sugar melts and starts to caramelise and turn golden. Carefully add the nuts, and stir gently to coat. Pour out the sticky nuts on to the lined tray, leave to cool, then chop and set aside. Mix the yogurt with the remaining olive oil and set aside.

Spread out the beetroot slices on a large platter, making sure they're slightly overlapping each other. Drizzle over the yoghurt, sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and finish with the chilli flakes, coriander and a final dribble of oil.