ROASTED BEETS (for six)
6 to 8 beets (either red or yellow, or a mixture)
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400*.
2. Trim the beets, leaving 1 inch of the stems attached, and scrub them well. Wrap the beets tightly in aluminum foil (three or more to a packet) and roast (on a jelly roll pan or baking sheet) in the middle of the oven until tender, about 1-1/2 hours. (The cooking time will vary according to the size of the beets – you want them tender all the way through when you pierce them with a small, sharp knife). Unwrap the beets carefully (steam will escape) and let them stand until they are cool enough to handle. Peel them under running water (Beets are now ready for use). They may be roasted and peeled 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before proceeding. You can cut them into rounds, matchsticks, wedges, or whatever shape pleases you, toss with butter, salt and pepper and serve directly, or you can proceed with the following variations.
3. Cut the beets into ¼ inch thick rounds. Melt the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the beets and toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle with vinegar, salt and pepper and cook, tossing gently, until beets are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
adapted from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, The New Basics Cookbook
NOTE: Beets are messy to prepare. Aprons and rubber gloves will protect your hands and clothing from red juice stains. Julia says that beet stains can be removed from hands by wetting them and rubbing them with salt, and that a little bleach will immediately remove stains from cutting boards and utensils (The Way to Cook, page 293).