Those of us who work on this newsletter cook constantly. When we don’t use recipes (which is often) we’re mostly terrible at remembering to write down what we’re doing as we’re doing it so that we can turn these things into actual recipes to share with all of you. Daniel cooked beets this weekend in a way that’s both a little unconventional and totally wonderful (and he didn’t forget to write it down). I’m going to make these the next time I get my hands on some beets; you might want to do the same.
Yes, I did remember to write down the recipe, though I did not remember to take a picture of the final dish (there were no beets left to photograph at the end of the night, which I guess we’ll take as a sign that they might be worth cooking/eating). My apologies for that.
Anyway, here’s how this whole thing came about. It’s summer, which means that we’ve now officially entered the time of year when anyone who writes about cooking is contractually obligated to publish at least one story about all the amazing “no-cook” recipes we should be making when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. Gazpacho, salad, fistfuls of ice cream, you get the idea. I’ve never totally subscribed to summer oven-shaming; if it’s 90 degrees in my apartment and I’m already sweating through my clothes, what the hell difference is a roast chicken going to make?
Or so I thought. Turns out that when it’s 90 degrees in your apartment and your AC is broken and your sweaty little two-month-old baby is stuck to your chest, you actually don’twant to turn on the oven (they say being a parent changes you; I guess this is what they’re talking about).
So, when it came to the golden beets I wanted to cook the other night, roasting was out. Instead, I cut them into thick rounds, tossed them into a shallow saucepan, added some crushed garlic cloves and a few sprigs of rosemary, submerged them in olive oil and poached them (I buy big jugs of totally unremarkable olive oil in bulk for occasions just like this). Once you get the oil to bubble gently and steadily, you can walk away and go feed your kid or call your electrician or whatever you want to do. Cook the beets until they’re just tender (stick one with the tip of a paring knife to check), about an hour.
Poached beets were never the goal; why would they be? Since I was grilling that night anyway, I figured I’d finish them over the fire. It goes quick, probably two minutes per side, tops, depending on how hot your grill is. They develop this beautiful blistered char, and because they’re already cooked through, you can pull them off the grill as soon as they’re exactly as crisp as you want them. Put them on a platter, and at the very least drizzle them with a little of the garlic-rosemary oil that they cooked in. (I also brushed that on literally everything else I grilled that night: steak, shrimp, zucchini, kale, asparagus, and bread. Golden beets won’t dye it pink; regular beets will. It’s delicious either way, so don’t throw it out!)
Chopped parsley and lemon zest are good garnishes too. A dusting of Parmesan wouldn’t be out of line. It’s entirely up to you. As long as you stay away from the oven, you can’t go wrong.
Golden beets, poaching in olive oil with garlic and rosemary
Normally, roasting a beet is among the least onerous cooking tasks there is, but when the summer heat starts to kick in, sometimes you just can’t bear to turn on the oven. When that’s the case, try this: slice the beets thickly, slowly poach them in olive oil spiked with garlic and rosemary until tender, then throw them on the grill until they’re beautifully blistered and charred. Kind of different, really good.
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