Episode 83 – “Beet It”

Posted: June 30, 2017 in Season 6
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I have written before about how much I enjoy beets, so I was highly anticipating an entire Good Eats episode devoted to them. We didn’t really eat beets when I was a kid, so I suppose I really didn’t discover my love of them until I was an adult. These days, beets are in regular rotation at our house, as Ted loves them too.

Pickled Beets

Not only do I love beets, but I also happen to be a fan of anything pickled, so a pickled beet recipe was right up my alley. To make a couple quarts of pickled beets, you’ll need about six medium-sized beets; some of my beets were large, so I cut them in half.

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Some of my beets were large, so I cut them in half before roasting.

Place the cleaned beets on a sheet of foil, along with 2 t olive oil, 2 peeled shallots, and 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary.

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Beets, rosemary, olive oil, and shallots.

Fold the foil up around the beets, crimping the edges to form a packet. Roast the beet packets for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

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Beets, rosemary, olive oil, and shallots, wrapped up in a packet.

While your beets roast, prepare your pickling brine by combining 1 C water, 1 C tarragon wine vinegar, 1/2 C sugar, and 1 1/2 t Kosher salt. Note:  I made my own tarragon wine vinegar by soaking fresh tarragon in boiled white wine vinegar for a few days. I later found tarragon wine vinegar at a store, so I made one jar of beets with my vinegar and the other jar with the purchased vinegar.

Bring the brine mixture to a boil in the microwave, which should take about three minutes on high. When the beets are done roasting, peel and thinly slice them.

You will also want to French one red onion. To French an onion, cut it in half through its stem. Cut a small piece out of each end of the onion halves, as this will allow the pieces to separate. Holding the onion with one hand, angle your knife and cut radially up to the center of the onion. Turn the onion half the other direction, and repeat.

Fill two quart jars with alternating layers of beets and onions, and pour over the hot brine. Let the beets cool before refrigerating.

Ideally, you should let these sit for a week before digging in, and they will last for about a month in the refrigerator. I have two main gripes with this recipe, the first being that the beets needed more time in the oven. The roasted beets had amazing flavor and aroma from the rosemary and shallots, but they were still a bit too firm. My other complaint is that Alton’s brine recipe just does not make enough. I found that one batch of brine was the perfect amount for just one quart of pickles, so you will likely need to double the brine. Aside from my beet pickles being a tad too crunchy, the flavor on these is fantastic.

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Pickled beets and onions after refrigerating for a week.

They are tangy and slightly sweet, and they add beautiful color to the plate. We have been putting pickled beets and red onions on our salads, and they add a lot of texture and flavor. I haven’t added these to pizza yet, but that’s on my list. I plan to make these again once we run out, but I will be roasting my beets for at least 10 minutes more. Oh, and I am re-using my pickle brine to make beet pickled eggs, so we’ll see how those turn out. I simply boiled my brine and poured it over hard-cooked eggs.

Glazed Baby Beets

My mother-in-law happened to serve baby beets at dinner just a few days before I was going to be making this recipe. It turns out that she had ventured to the local farmers market to get her baby beets, so I followed suit and used pretty baby beets from the market.

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Fresh baby beets from the farmers market.

Wash/scrub about 20 baby beets, trimming their greens and leaving just a small stem.

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Cleaned baby beets.

Put the beets in a lidded skillet with 2 C of apricot juice, and place them over medium heat.

Cover the pan and let the beets cook for 10 minutes.

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Baby beets cooking in apricot juice for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add 3 T white balsamic vinegar and 2 T honey to the pan. Place the lid back on the pan and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook the beets for an additional 10 minutes.

You want your beets to be fork-tender and for a shiny glaze to be left in the pan. If your liquid has evaporated before your beets are tender, add 1/4 C of water to the pan and cook the beets for three more minutes with the lid on over low heat. Conversely, if your beets are done cooking, but there is too much liquid in the pan, remove the beets from the pan and allow the glaze to reduce before adding the beets back to the pan. I actually found that my beets were not tender enough after the 20 minutes of cooking and I also had too much liquid, so I cooked my beets a few minutes longer than Alton recommended, removed them from the pan, and let my glaze reduce before adding the beets back in.

The resulting beets were shiny, ruby red, and had tart sweetness from the combination of apricot juice, white balsamic vinegar, and honey. I wondered if the beet skins would be noticeable, but they really were not.

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Glazed baby beets.

These were pretty, easy, and really quite fast to make, especially compared to most beet recipes. Try these for a pretty side dish while baby beets are still in season.

Beet Green Gratin

If you are looking for a way to use your beautiful beet greens, Alton has a recipe for you to do just that. You will need a full pound of beet greens for this, which, for me, equated to the greens of three bunches of baby beets.

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A pound of fresh beet greens.

Begin by melting 1 T butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Add 12 ounces of sliced mushrooms, cooking them until they are brown and tender.

Next, add your pound of cleaned/stemmed beet greens. I found that it took several minutes for the beet greens to wilt and cook down.

Meanwhile, in a bowl combine 4 egg yolks, 1/2 C grated Parmesan, 1 C ricotta cheese, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/4 t pepper.

Add this cheese mixture to the beet green mixture, stirring to combine.

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Egg/cheese mixture added to the skillet.

Spoon the beet green mixture into a greased casserole dish (with a lid), sprinkling 3/4 C of crumbled Ritz crackers over the top.

Place the lid on the casserole dish and bake it for 45 minutes at 375 degrees (the online recipe tells you to bake it with the lid on for only the first 30 minutes).

I would not go out of my way to make this again. The proportions here seemed a bit off to me, as it was predominantly beet greens.

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Beet green gratin

If you want to taste umami, you will get that here. I think this would be better if the beet greens were chopped, and if the ratio of eggs/cheese to greens were higher. For example, I could see adding chopped, sautéed beet greens to Alton’s refrigerator pie recipe from episode 30. While I like the idea of using my beet greens, this recipe just was not a favorite of mine.

 

Comments
  1. truthspew says:

    I too love beets but when I eat roast beets it turns excreta beet red. We’re talking #1 and #2 here.

    And yes, I have the gene where asparagus makes urine smell funny.

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