by Emily Thorson
Let me preface this by saying that if you don’t like beets, that’s fine. I get that they’re not for everyone, even though I think they taste like the dark meat off an angel. But hey, I can’t stand green peppers, and everyone assures me that my dislike is ridiculous, so I will refrain from throwing stones at your sad, lonely, beet-hating glass house.
So. As I was preparing my weekly beets on Sunday night, I suddenly realized that there may be people out there WHO ARE DOING BEETS WRONG. This is immensely sad. If you find cooking and preparing beets at all difficult or tiresome then you are DOING IT WRONG (through no fault of your own, I am sure) and I am going to tell you how to do it AWESOMELY. Ready?
WHAT YOU NEED:
A baking pan
1) Buy beets
Try to buy a bunch where they’re about the same size and the beet greens look fresh (we can use the greens for other dishes, more on that later). Don’t worry if the beets are filthy. That’s just how beets roll.
2) Preheat the oven
To 400 degrees!
3) Trim beets
Chop off the stems about a half-inch from where they come off the beet. I like to use kitchen shears, because sometimes a little beet juice gets on them and I look like a crazed scissor-murderer (this is an ongoing benefit of working with beets). Set aside the greens–we’ll discuss them later. If the beet has a long dangly rat-tail you may want to cut that off too, because while edible, it looks a LOT like a rat tail and is super creepy.
4) Wash beets
Don’t worry about getting every little speck out, since you’ll be taking the peel off later anyway. Just give them a quick scrub.
5) Wrap ’em and bake ’em
Wrap each beet nice and tightly in tinfoil. Place them into the pan. I usually use a cheap metal square baking pan. Some beet juice will probably leak onto the pan at some point in the process, so don’t use your grandmother’s antique linen pan or whatever.
6) Put them in the oven
For oh…an hour, hour and a half. After an hour, stick a sharp knife into them (right through the tinfoil!). If it goes in with little resistance, the beet is done. Keep in mind that they may cook at different speeds, especially if they’re different sized. It’s not the end of the world if you overcook a beet, but you don’t want to undercook it.
7) Take them out and put them in the fridge
When the beets are done, cool the pan on the counter for a bit. Then stick the whole pan right into the fridge. Tinfoil and all.
8) Peel and use
When you’re ready to use a beet, take it out of the fridge. You’re going to want to do this over the sink. Unwrap the beet from the tinfoil. Cut off the end with the stem coming out. Now, just slide the peel off the beet. It should come off very, very easily. Beet juice wil be copious. If you live with a roommate or significant other, now might be a good time to loudly scream “MY FINGEEERRRRRR!” and wait for them to come running.
9) Beet it!
Now chop the beet up and put it in your salad, or eat it on its own, or do whatever floats your beet boat. Personally, I put them into a salad with arugula and goat cheese, which is one of the most cliched things you can do with a beet, but also one of the most delicious.