I hate beets. My family knows it. My friends know it. So do many chefs in San Diego.
And yet I made pickled beets over the weekend.
So, why should you trust me with a pickled beets recipe? Because I made them for my dad. He loves beets and asked me to make pickled beets for him. And, well, I love my dad. So, of course, I made them.
I scoured cookbooks and online recipes for something with simple flavors--nothing fancy or exotic. These days he prefers the basics. Cloves and cinnamon? Out. Tarragon? Out. The more I read, the more variations on a theme I saw. I could boil them or roast them. Put them in the refrigerator to let the brine penetrate over days or use a hot water bath to sterilize and can them. So many options.
So, here's what I finally decided on. Roasting root vegetables is always a good thing, so I trimmed the stems (keeping the beet greens for my mom and a neighbor to enjoy), then rubbed the beets in olive oil, and roasted them with large shallots.
I made a simple brine with white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, a couple of bay leaves, and yellow mustard seeds.
I washed a couple of quart jars in very hot soapy water, filled them with cut up beets and shallots and poured the boiled brine over them. After sealing the jars with the lids and screw rings, I put the jars in the fridge for a few days.
That's it. The toughest part--aside from red-stained fingers and living with the aroma of roasted beets--was peeling the roasted beets. The skins don't uniformly just slip off, unlike what many recipes will tell you. Keep a paring knife on hand to deal with the pieces of skin that simply won't budge. And, by the way, the paper towel rubbing method wasn't effective either.
Ultimately, it was no big deal. The beets got peeled and everything else was ridiculously easy. And, hopefully, Dad--and Mom--will be happy.
Pickled Beets with Shallots
Yield: 2 quarts
For Roasting Beets
4 pounds red beets
3 large shallots, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
4 tablespoons kosher salt
Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Trim tops of beets to one inch. Save the greens for a saute, soup, or salad. Trim the root. Rub each beet and the shallots with olive oil and place in heavy duty aluminum foil. Cover with more foil and roast for 40 minutes or until the beets are easily pierced through. Remove from heat and let cool enough so you can handle them with your hands.
Remove the stem and skin. Cut into bite-size chunks. Arrange in a clean jar with the shallot pieces.
Mix together the brine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Strain the liquid as you pour it over the beets in each jar. Place the lid on each jar and tighten the screw rings. Refrigerate three to seven days before serving.