I’ve had some success with naturally fermented food and am learning loads about how ridiculously nutritious they are. It’s the lactobacillus bacteria that are wonderful for your digestive system. With my overall health not great, I’ve decided to do my bit for my gut health by including naturally fermented foods when I can. I used to make great sourdough bread. I had great success with my batch of sauerkraut and next year I think I’m going to use natural fermentation to make my blackberry wine. Anyway, I thought the seasonal beetroot in the market at the moment would make a great raw, tangy and crunchy pickle for beef tacos. You need to make the pickle a few days in advance. But it’s very simple. I fermented mine for four days. Next time I’m going to leave it for longer to increase the tanginess. I picked up some gravy beef from my favourite beef supplier, Gilmore Braes Heritage Beef. Slow cooked with Ancho chilli powder and smoked paprika gave a good hit of smokiness and just enough heat to the beef. Boy was I on the money with this idea! These are my best beef tacos yet. That beef was an absolute winner with my pickled beetroot, sour cream and some fresh rocket. A squeeze of fresh lime makes the whole combination sing.
|2||fresh, medium sized beetroot|
|2||teaspoons||hot smoked paprika|
|1||teaspoon||Ancho chilli powder|
|½||teaspoon||ground white pepper|
|1||teaspoon||ground black pepper|
Make the pickle a few days in advance. Peel the beetroot and remove the tops. Finely slice the beetroots on a mandolin, or the long blade on your vegetable grater. Then cut the slices into fine matchsticks. Pack the matchsticks of beetroot into a sterilised jar that has a wide mouth, sprinkling in the salt and packing them down as you go. You want to be very firm with the matchsticks. The idea is to draw out as much moisture from them as possible. This liquid, or brine, will create an anaerobic environment for the healthy lactobacillus bacteria to grow. When you’ve packed all your beetroot, use a clean lid from a smaller jar (or some other device to weigh the beetroot down) so the beetroot sits below the surface of the liquid. Then loosely cover the jar with its lid. Leave the jar on the bench top for at least three days. At this point, you may need to mix the beetroot a little, to allow any excess carbon dioxide to escape. The pickle should smell slightly acid, and the liquid may be a bit gooey, these are all good signs. You can keep it fermenting for as long as you’d like. The pickle will continue to increase in acidity the longer you ferment it. When it has reached the desired level of acidity, screw the lid on the jar and place it in the refrigerator.
To make the beef, gently toast the Ancho chilli powder and paprika in a dry frying pan and transfer to your slow cooker with the black and white pepper, salt and tomato passata. Increase the heat of the frying pan to high. When the pan is hot, add the beef and brown it all over. Do this in batches, rather than letting it stew in an overcrowded pan. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Deglaze the frying pan with a couple of cups of water, being sure to lift all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Tip this water into the slow cooker with the beef. You want enough water in the cooker to just cover the meat. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for about twelve hours.
Lift the lid of the slow cooker and let the liquid evaporate. Shred the beef with two forks. Gently heat the tortillas in a hot, dry frying pan. Spoon about half a cup of pulled beef across the middle of the tortillas, top with a generous quantity of sour cream, then a very good handful of fresh rocket. Lastly, scatter on a good amount of the beetroot. Eat immediately.