Author Notes: Beets are popular these days and I think its because we've figured out how to cook them. They used to be just boiled or pickled and that created a legion of beet haters (my girlfriend included). But when you roast them with a little added flavor, their sweetness comes out in a more savory way. The one drawback is that they take some time to cook. So when you are thinking about dinner and beets are included, make sure to get them going right away. Here is a recipe for roasted beets paired with duck hearts. At The Publican last month, this was the garnish for a sardine, but I think it makes for a great appetizer. —The Perennial Plate
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
- 8 small chioggia beets and their tops
- 2 oranges
- 1 lemon
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 1 head of garlic, split in two
- Olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 12 duck hearts
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground and toasted fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Remove the beet tops. Wash the beets well and leave one aside. In a hotel pan or caserole pan, dress the beets in the juice of one orange, plenty of salt, the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees. After 40 minutes, stick a knife into a beet to see if they are done. They should be, but sometimes beets can take forever. Adjust accordingly.
- When they are done, remove them from the oven and peel off the skins while they are still hot (if you let the beets cool, it will be a lot harder to remove the skin). Cut the beets into slices and pour the pan juice over the beets. Let the beets cool.
- While the beets are cooking, wash and dry the leaves. Marinate them in the juice of one of one orange, the juice of the lemon, salt and olive oil. Set aside.
- Also while the beets are cooking. Make a mixture of the salt, pepper, sugar and fennel. Toss the hearts in the salt mixture and set aside for an hour. After an hour, rince the cure off the hearts and dry them. Skewer the hearts and grill each to medium rare (about 1.5 minutes on each side). Slice the hearts into quarters.
- Remove the beets from the liquid. Mince the marinated beet stems and combine with the beets and minced shallots. If its a little dry, use some of the two marinating liquids. At the last minute, toss in the quartered duck hearts. Garnish with a pile of julienned raw chioggia beet (no dressing).