Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Pickled Oven-Roasted Beets with Onions
I actually used a full glass dish of beets for this recipe, but I took a few out for the photo so you could see the shallots and rosemary.
Trim beet tops to 1-2 inches, and the scrub beets well. Do not cut the roots; leaving short lengths of beet stems and roots attached keeps the beets from bleeding while roasting.
Pre-heat oven to 425ºF. Put 2 tablespoons or so of oilve oil in a glass baking dish. Add the beets in one layer and thoroughly coat the beets, adding more olive oil if necessary. Peel 2-4 garlic cloves (optional) and 3-4 shallots and add to the glass dish. Cut a sprig or two of fresh rosemary to add, then cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Place the baking dish in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes, or until a knife pierces the beets easily. The time will depend on size of the beets.
When beets are tender, remove dish from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Then trim the tops and roots, and slip the skins. Discard the rosemary, shallots and garlic. If the beets are very small, you may want to pickle them whole, or quarter them. Mine were too large for that, so I sliced them about 1/4" thick; and with the larger beets, I also halved the slices.
While the beets are cooling, place a non-reactive pot on the stove. (Here, my quantities are tailored to how many beets I am roasting.) I used 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 1-1/4 cups sugar, and 3/4 cup of water. Slice 2-3 large onions very thin, and set aside.
Before heating the vinegar sauce, I added a heaping tablespoon of my homemade pickling spices (recipe follows in a separate post), a teaspoon of mixed peppercorns (black, white, Schezuan, and pink), plus a heaping teaspoon of Kosher salt.
Heat the vinegar mixture enough for the sugar to dissolve, and taste it. Now is the time to adjust vinegar, sugar and salt if necessary. When the mixture is almost to a boil, dump in the onions and stir to wilt them. Then add the beets and bring it all just barely to a boil.
Fill hot, sterilized jars with the beets and onions, and top off with the liquid and spices from the pot. If it looks like there's not enough liquid, distribute what you have evenly amongst the jars and quickly heat more vinegar/water to finish filling the jars.
Wipe rim of jar to clean, add hot clean lids and rings, tighten and set aside on a towel to cool. Some folks like to put these in a water bath for 10-15 minutes, although the acid in the vinegar will keep the contents from spoiling as long as the lids seal. I find additional cooking makes the beets mushy.
If any jars have not sealed when cooled, just refrigerate them. Mine never last long enough to worry about spoiling! Some options for pickling beets are to add a thin slice or two of orange to each jar, and/or a small piece of cinnamon stick. If you choose to add cinnamon and/or orange, you might want to omit the garlic from the roasting pan.
By the way, roasted beets cooked as above and served warm (not pickled) make a very pretty and tasty side dish!
You can use a commercial pickling spice mix, but I have all the spices on hand anyway, so I mix my own.
My Pickling Spice Mix
These are approx. amounts only (I seldom measure exactly)
1 Tbs. yellow mustard seed
1 Tbs. whole allspice
1 Tbs. whole cloves
1 Tbs. whole mace, or crumbled mace blades
1 Tbs. whole coriander
1 small dried red pepper, crumbled
2-4 bay leaves, crumbled (how many depends on their size)
2 short pieces cinnamon stick, chopped or broken (not ground)
1 Tbs. juniper berries
1 Tbs. whole black peppercorns
Sometimes I add a tsp. dried ginger, just depends on my mood, and what I have on hand. Mix well and store in an airtight jar in a cool place (like the rest of your herbs and spices).