October 15, 2012

Why to amend a chef's recipe [Citrus Beet Salad]

To the rest of the food world who turns on cable television more than once every six months, Chris Hastings is a big deal. Key words: Iron Chef.

To the world of critical food snobbery, he is also a big deal. Key words: James Beard.

And while I am certain he lives up to his fame as Best Chef in the South, I do know one thing: he crafts restaurant recipes, not so much friendly-for-the-home kitchen recipes. Or such was the case in my experience.

The "Chef's Garden Beet Salad" trouble started at the grocery store when I was executing the first step of Project Make-a-Recipe-to-in-the-Name-of-Needing-a-Photo-for-the-Paper. Three kinds of beets? Surely one will do. Arugula and frisee? I see mixed baby greens!

Photos for Village Living
And then when I got to the kitchen, it was two kids of olive oil? Why in the world when you can just have one? Fresh orange juice? I have carton of oj in the fridge that surely will do just fine. Fresh thyme? Umm, let's do dried. Lemon and lime juice? I have lemons; they'll do. Individually plate each salad with all ingredients? Salads taste pretty swell tossed en mass in my book.

And then came the necessary evil: reducing 1 cup of orange juice to 3 tablespoons. Is this what chefs do all day --> wait for-e-ver for juice to reduce to a tiny fraction of its volume?  I just roasted beets for more than an hour, and I thought that was my time splurge. I did in fact wait and wait and wait for the oj to reduce to a thick, dark and delicious syrup. I do not know that I would have the patience for it again when surely just juice would taste good enough for a citrus dressing.

I don't mind spending time in the kitchen on a special project, but this project required cutting corners to avoid spending literally all night to make a salad. Power to chefs, but on this here blog you will find home kitchen recipes. And that is why I dumbed down poor Chris Hastings' recipe.

Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to belittle the awesome work of Chef Hastings and Hot and Hot. I just felt the need to simplify his recipe when I was making it for personal consumption. His recipe is indeed tasty my way and would probably be all the more so with his much more complex method.

Citrus Beet Salad
Adapted from Chris Hastings via Village Living, October 2012

3 red beets, roasted, peeled and sliced into wedges (recipe below)
1/2 cup Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe below)), divided
6 cups mixed baby lettuces
1 cup goat cheese
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Cut the beets into halves (or quarters, depending on their size.) Place the beets in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Toss the beets in the vinaigrette until well coated.

Toss greens with cheese and walnuts. Toss with vinaigrette, to taste. Distribute greens on salad plates or bowls and top each serving with beet wedges.

Roasted Red Beets

4 large (1/2 pound) red beets, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
6 fresh thyme sprigs or a few teaspoons dried thyme
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the beets in a small baking dish. Add the olive oil, water, thyme , and salt to the beets and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Roast the beets at 400°F for 1 hour - 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender. Remove the beets from the oven and set aside to cool completely before peeling.

Citrus Vinaigrette

Yield: about 1/2 cup

1 cup  orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil

Place the orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the orange juice has reduced to about 1/4 cup. (Beware: this takes for-e-ver.) Add the orange zest to the reduced juice and continue simmering until the mixture has reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the juice mixture to cool completely.

Whisk together the cooled orange mixture, lemon juice,  thyme, and parsley. Season the juice mixture with the salt and pepper. Add oil gradually while whisking; whisk until slightly thickened. Use the vinaigrette immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. The vinaigrette will keep refrigerated for up to two days.

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