One of my favorite ways to cook potatoes is to do it twice. I’m not talking about french fries — even though twice-frying is a stellar approach. I’m talking about boiling or steaming them until tender, then flattening them and either pan-frying or roasting them. If you’ve done it, you know the appeal: It’s about those two textures, inside and out, and the contrast between them.
Turns out that potatoes aren’t the only good candidate for the treatment, as I learned when I tried a recipe for crispy smashed beets from Gregory Gourdet’s new book, “Everyone’s Table” (Harper Wave, 2021). You first roast the beets whole (leaving on the peels, making this recipe right up my alley), along with Fresno chiles, whole garlic cloves and some water to keep things from burning. Then you let them cool briefly before smashing and frying. Those peels are what turn into the crispy edges and bits while the insides stay tender.
Gourdet calls for quickly wilted scallions on top, but if you buy the beets with their greens on, as I did, throw them in, too. I wanted a little protein, so I tossed on some cashews for even more crunch.
The result is a little hashlike (red flannel, anyone?), but the sweet-meets-heat flavor is what makes the dish a keeper.
All in all, a smashing success. What can I smash next? I’m looking at you, carrots.
Make ahead: The beets can be roasted and smashed, then refrigerated for up to 3 days before frying.
Storage: The fried beets can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheat in a 200-degree oven for about 20 minutes.
- 2 pounds small to medium beets (with or without their greens)
- 12 cloves garlic
- 2 moderately spicy red chiles, such as Fresnos, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
- Flaky sea salt, for finishing (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
If the beets have their greens, cut off the greens from the roots. Trim any dark spots from the top of the beets, trim off their tails, and scrub them well, but do not peel them. (The peel is what gets crispiest in the pan.)
In a Dutch oven or deep skillet with a lid, combine the beet roots with the garlic, chiles, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the sea salt and toss to coat. Pour in the water, cover, and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beets are very tender; a sharp knife or metal skewer should go in with barely any pressure.
While the beets are roasting, wash and dry the leaves and stems (if using), stack them, roll them up like a cigar and thinly slice.
Set out a stain-resistant cutting board, or line one with parchment paper. When the beets are tender, using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the board, and reserve the garlic and chiles. Let the beets cool until you can handle them but they’re still warm, 5 to 10 minutes. Using a small plate, gently crush the beets, one by one, to a relatively even thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Try to keep them mostly in one piece.
In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil until it shimmers. Working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, cook the beets until charred and crisp at the edges, about 3 minutes per side. (It’s okay if they fall apart a bit.) As they’re done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a platter, leaving the oil behind. Pour off all but a slick of oil in the skillet.
When all the beets are ready, add the scallions and beets greens (if using) to the pan and cook, stirring, just until fragrant and the greens are wilted, about 1 minute. Scatter the mixture over the beets, along with the cashews and the reserved roasted garlic and chile slices, sprinkle with flaky salt and serve warm.
(Per serving, based on 4)
Calories: 329; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 779 mg; Carbohydrates: 32 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugar: 7 g; Protein: 7 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
Adapted from “Everyone’s Table” by Gregory Gourdet (Harper Wave, 2021).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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