Piccalilli is a heavily spiced Irish relish derived from Indian pickles. Cathal Armstrong's recipe in his new cookbook, My Irish Table, blends golden beets, cipollini onions, cauliflower, and radishes with a vinegary paste made with turmeric, mustard, and sugar. The resulting relish is assertive, tangy, and earthy—it pairs exceptionally well with rich stews and braises like yesterday's shepherd's pie.
Why I picked this recipe: I'm an avid pickler, but I'd never heard of, much less made, piccalilli.
What worked: On its own, this relish is a bit overpowering, but it is the perfect match for heavy entrées.
What didn't: I wasn't a huge fan of the whole (basically) raw onions. Next time, I'll add them to the boiling beet water for a couple of minutes just to take the edge off. The cauliflower could also benefit from the same treatment.
Suggested tweaks: This recipe makes a lot of piccalilli. Cut the recipe in half unless you're a piccalilli fiend.
Reprinted with permission from My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedom. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes about 5 pints
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:At least 6 1/2 hours
- 2 pounds large (3-inch-diameter) white or golden beets, unpeeled but trimmed of greens and tips
- 6 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 quarts water
- 2 cups cauliflower florets (cut into 1-inch pieces, about 10 ounces)
- 5 cups whole peeled and trimmed cipollini onions (about 24 ounces)
- 2 cups halved radishes (stem and root ends removed, about 12 ounces)
- 3/4 cup ground turmeric
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
- 4 cups Champagne vinegar
Cook the beets: Cover the beets with cold water in a heavy saucepan and boil until fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain them in a colander and let them cool just until you can handle them. Peel them warm (the skin slides right off if they’re warm), then cut them into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 3 cups.
Brine the vegetables: Place the salt and 1 quart of the water in a 2-gallon zip-top bag. Seal the bag and massage it a few times to help dissolve the salt. Add the beets, cauliflower, onions, and radishes to the bag along with the remaining 1 quart of water. Seal the bag again, pressing out any air, so that the vegetables are completely submerged. Place the bag in a large bowl (to stabilize it) and let the vegetables sit on the counter for several hours, or refrigerate overnight. When ready to use, drain the vegetables in a colander, rinse them in cold water, and drain again.
Make the sauce: In large flameproof casserole, whisk together the turmeric, flour, sugar, mustard, and 1 cup of the vinegar to make a paste. Add the remaining 3 cups of vinegar and whisk until smooth. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a boil and cook until it thickens, about 3 minutes, whisking continually to keep lumps from forming. Add the vegetables, stirring to coat them, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Store the piccalilli: Refrigerate the piccalilli for up to 2 weeks.