Fried Cooleeney Cheese with Beet Salad
This is our adaptation of a dish we sampled in Ireland, near the town of Ballinderry. It's based on a mold-ripened soft cheese from County Tipperary called Cooleeney. Camembert would make an inexact but usable substitute.
FOR THE BEETS:
3 medium beets (1 lb.), trimmed
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE CHUTNEY:
3 1⁄2 cups drained assorted canned fruit (pineapple,
peaches, and apricots), chopped
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup white wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup black raisins
1⁄4 cup golden raisins
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. pickling spice
1 tsp. sweet Asian chili sauce
FOR THE CABBAGE:
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 small head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE CHEESE:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1⁄2 cups dry bread crumbs
3 4" wheels Cooleeney or camembert, quartered
1 small head green leaf lettuce, trimmed and chopped
Fronds from one fennel bulb
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1. For the beets: Put beets into a medium pot, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, 1 1/2–2 hours. Remove beets from pot, let cool slightly, then peel and cut into 1" chunks. Toss beets, oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
2. For the chutney: Combine fruit, onions, vinegar, sugar, raisins, curry, pickling spice, and chili sauce in a nonreactive medium pot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until fruit is very tender and chutney is thick and shiny, about 1 hour. Set aside to let cool.
3. For the cabbage: Combine vinegar, sugar, cabbage, ginger, garlic, and pepper in a nonreactive medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until liquid is thick and cabbage is tender, 40–45 minutes.
4. For the cheese: Put eggs and bread crumbs into separate shallow bowls. Coat cheese in eggs, then dredge in the crumbs. Chill cheese on a plate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Pour oil into a medium pot to a depth of 2" and heat over medium heat until temperature registers 350° on a candy thermometer. Working in batches, fry cheese until golden, 2–3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
5. Arrange lettuce and fennel fronds, beets, and cheese in piles on each of six plates. Top greens with cabbage and onions. Spoon chutney over cheese.