Salt-roasted beets

By Shane M. Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King
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Cathryn Sprague

There’s a huge salt bed on the Canadian Prairies. It angles from southwestern Manitoba through central Saskatchewan and then up to northern Alberta. A salt plant in Elk Point, Alberta, produces up to 200 tons of salt per day. And beets with dill is a classic Prairie food pairing. This dish is an homage to those three important ingredients — salt, beets, and dill — and my home province.

Salt-roasting steams the beets right in their skins, giving them a satiny smooth texture and intense flavour. Salt-roasted beets are great sliced and sprinkled with fresh dill, cubed on a charcuterie plate, or sliced and tossed in a green salad with goat cheese. Use the method below for the beet salad on page 121, or as a side for fish, chicken, bison, or beef dishes.

YIELDS
6 BEETS

Ingredients

Special equipment:

  • Rubber or latex gloves (optional)
  • 1.4 kilograms coarse kosher salt
  • 6 medium beets
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup / 80 milliliters chopped fresh dill fronds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C (see Tip). Cover the bottom of an 20 by 15 centimeter loaf pan or a 23 centimeter round cake pan with a layer of salt that is approximately 0.5 centimeter deep.
  2. Using a sharp knife, trim the beet greens so that about 2.5 centimeter of the leaf stalk remains and remove the small root tail at the bottom of each beet. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand or electric mixer, whip the egg whites to about half-stiffness (you want them to flow nicely and not be too stiff). Fold in the chopped dill.
  4. Holding the beets by the tops, roll them in the egg white mixture, and then stand them up in the bed of salt in the pan.
  5. Carefully pour the remaining salt around the beets until just the very tops are exposed. Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, until the beets are cooked but still firm (test by sticking a sharp paring knife into one of the larger beets: It should go in fairly easily). Remove the pan from the oven and let the beets rest for about 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle.
  6. Once the beets are cool, shake off the excess salt and, using your hands, peel off and discard the skins (you may want to wear rubber or latex gloves to avoid staining your hands).

 

Excerpted from 'tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine' by Shane M. Chartrand with Jennifer Cockrall-King. Copyright © 2019 Shane Mederic Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press Inc., Toronto. All rights reserved. www.houseofanansi.com

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