Beet-Cured Trout with Beet Cream Cheese and Watercress Salad


  • 4 c Pickle brine, recipe follows
  • 3 12 oz. Red beets, trimmed and peeled
  • 1/4 c plus 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 c Sugar
  • 2 T Beet powder
  • 2 tsp. Fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. Black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. Fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground coffee
  • 8 4-oz. skinless trout fillets
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
  • 1 T Prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground white pepper
  • 16 Toast points
  • Watercress salad, recipe follows


Bring pickle brine, beets and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beets are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, pickle 1 hour, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Finely grind together sugar, beet powder, thyme leaves, peppercorns, fennel seeds, ground coffee and remaining 1⁄4 cup salt. Spread half of mixture on sheet tray; place fillets on top and cover with remaining spice mix. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.

Rinse trout, pat dry with paper towels, drizzle with olive oil and wrap each fillet in parchment paper. Let the trout fillets stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove the trout from the parchment and thinly slice the fillets into 1⁄8-inch thick slices.

Cut one of the beets into 1⁄4-inch thick slices. Place remaining beets in food processor and add cream cheese, horseradish and white pepper, and process until smooth. Serve trout with the pickled beet slices, beet cream cheese, toast points and watercress salad. Makes 8 servings.

To make pickle brine: bring 1 quart water, 16 ounces apple cider vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 1⁄2 cup kosher salt and 1 tablespoon pickling spice to a boil to dissolve ingredients; cool.

To make watercress salad: whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Toss with 4 ounces watercress. Makes about 2 cups. Beet powder can be purchased online, often called “beet juice powder” or “beet root powder.” 

Chef Todd Richards, One Flew South, Atlanta, Georgia, from Food Fanatics Magazine®