June 10, 2009
Beets Two Ways
by Gareth Mark
Beets are magical. The tuber is sweet, especially when it's roasted, and the greens are a tangy and nutritious addition to any meal.
When I have beets to roast I don't mess about. I drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle some sel gris or kosher salt on top, cover them with foil, and put them into the oven (350°F/175°C). After about 2-3 hours (depending on the size of the beet) they should be ready. They won't overcook if you leave them in the oven an extra quarter hour or so, they'll just caramelize. I like to finish them with a drizzle of Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegar.
The greens require a bit more work. A thorough cleaning is necessary, and I like to remove most of the stalk. You can braise them as-is with some onion, garlic, and maybe bacon. I used them as part of a skillet supper.
An inexpensive steak, like a round steak, is perfect for a simple skillet supper, and you can stretch a small steak to feed several people. Slice it rather thinly against the grain so that it'll cook rapidly yet be tender. Be careful to clean it up by trimming excess fat and removing tendon and silver skin.
Chop up some aromatics--onion, sweet red pepper, some carrot if you like. Peel and dice a tomato or two, or cut some cherry tomatoes in half. Make a chiffonade from the greens, or at least tear them into smaller pieces. Get some garlic confit out of the refrigerator, or mince a clove or two of fresh garlic.
The actual ingredients really don't matter that much, use whatever you have. The quantity doesn't much matter either, just use more veggies than meat, and make enough for however many are eating plus one or two, because it's mostly veggies, so you want to encourage a second helping.
Preheat your fry pan with some extra virgin olive oil--keep the heat down between medium-low and medium. Once the oil starts to shimmer, toss in the aromatics. Stir for a minute or so, then add the steak and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper. When the steak is mostly done, add the greens. After a couple more minutes the greens should be wilted and the steak should have given up some of its water. Now toss in the tomato and add a splash of wine. Give the tomatoes just enough time to soften, and it's done.
A simple dish like this will be successful if you follow a few guidelines. Use lots of fresh veggies of as many colors as you can manage; you need to eat all the colors for complete nutrition, and the color makes it more appetizing. Use an inexpensive protein--no need for porterhouse here. Remember the wine! Some alcohol is vital if you want to access all the flavors and nutrients, and it'll cook out by the time the pan is deglazed.
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that there's no recipe, and there are no recipe police looking over your shoulder to make sure you used exactly the same things I did in exactly the same proportions. Just get into the kitchen, use what you have, and create your own skillet supper. It'll be great!