Smoked Eel, Cheltenham Beetroot and Horseradish

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Make sure you source a good-quality smoked eel. We buy ours from the Dutch Eel Company in Lincolnshire, which rather surprisingly is the only eel merchant based in the UK. Serving the eel warm with the remaining ingredients at room temperature makes the whole ensemble much more appetising.

Cheltenham beetroot, more correctly Cheltenham Green Top Beetroot, is one of the oldest varieties of this underrated native vegetable. It is long in shape, very sweet and has a fine earthy flavour. A good greengrocer will be able to source if for you and many good farm shops and pick-your-owns have it.

Ingredients

  • 1 large fillet of smoked eel, about 400 g
  • 8 cooked Cheltenham beetroots
  • Young watercress or land cress sprigs, to garnish (optional)

For the Beetroot Purée

  • 150 g cooked Cheltenham beetroots
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

For the Horseradish Cream

  • 200 ml (double) cream
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish relish

Method

First make the horseradish cream by whipping the double cream to soft peaks then folding in the horseradish to taste. Chill.

Make the beetroot purée by blending all the ingredients together with a little water, if necessary, to make it spoonable but keeping a shape.

Cut the eel into individual portions, about 65 g. Just before you want to serve, you need to take off the skin. This is made much easier by warming the fillet: put it under a low grill in the bottom of the grill pan and turn it from time to time.

Serve the pieces of eel with the beetroots, beetroot purée and the horseradish cream. Garnish with sprigs of young watercress or land cress, if you like.

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