Chef of The Week - Mark Walsh, Head Chef at Harvey Nichols Birmingham
Mark Walsh – Forest Hotel
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Confit Chicken with Frederick Hiam’s Banging Beets

If there is one seasonal ingredient chefs simply have to put on their menus this month it’s sugar beet, which is currently in its prime according to family-owned grower Frederick Hiam.

With a history going back more than a century, Frederick Hiam now farms some 7,000 acres in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, specialising in sugar beet as well as potatoes, onions, parsnips, wheat and milk production.

Sugar beet is an important crop in the farm’s rotation and accounts for 1,300 acres. Planned production each season is over 30,000 tonnes and the crop is grown on all the farms with production on a range of soils from the lightest of sands to heavy black fen.

The Frederick Hiam-branded vegetable products are distributed daily throughout the UK into wholesale and foodservice customers with significant volumes of parsnips and parsley root being exported throughout Europe and as far as Japan and Canada.

Sweet and earthy, with similarities to beetroot, sugar beet is a versatile ingredient and popular with chefs, including Mark Walsh of Harvey Nichols Birmingham, who used them in this recipe for a recent Chefs’ Forum demo.

Mark Walsh’s confit chicken breast, crispy skin, sugar beet puree, black garlic puree, beet oil, garlic cream


Sugar beetIngredients
4 chicken breasts
6 bulbs black garlic
2 sugar beets
200ml chicken stock
100ml milk
200ml double cream
1kg chicken skin

For the brine
600g sugar
400g salt
1litre water


For the brine, bring the sugar, salt and water to the boil. Allow to cool, put the chicken in overnight.

Slow roast the skin until golden brown, dehydrated overnight and allow to cool, dry and blitz.

Pre heat confit oil to 130c and put in the chicken, patted dry, and cook for one hour.

Cut sugar beets into round fondants and, with the trimmings, chop up small, roast to golden brown and add 100ml of milk and the 100ml of chicken stock to cover and cook to soft, strain then puree. Reserve some liquid for the sauce, add the cream and reduce to a sauce consistency.

Blend the black garlic in the thermo with a splash of water, pass and bottle.

Cook the fondants in 100ml of chicken stock and 50g butter.

Put 50g beet leaves in the blender with 250ml vegetable oil and blend for 1min at 90c on high speed, chill over ice and pass.

Dress the plate as the photo and spilt the sauce with the oil.

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