Wednesday, December 16, 2015

And the Beet Goes On...
What’s cooking? Beet-Crusted Pork Tenderloin and Grated Beet Salad

In the holiday season, I always like to have a dish that seems celebratory. And while you may not be a fan of beets, you should give this one a try. First of all, the color is beautiful. And second, it doesn’t taste anything like beets.

Now I will admit that I’m a great lover of beets. Always have been. Even as a child, when I experienced beets only from the can, they were one of my favorite veggies. It was that period in American culinary history when fresh vegetables never really made an appearance in the kitchen. Only canned and frozen. At least, that was the way it was at my house. But I loved the lightly sweet taste and that great color.

In college, I was one of the few who actually ate the beets turned out by the dorm kitchen. I remember friends being amazed as I shoveled them down. And in my poor and harried single days in New York, those cans of sliced beets were often part – or maybe all – of dinner. Then I got married.

My husband has never been a fan. Of beets, that is. And I recognize that lots of people won’t touch them no matter how long I wax eloquent on the subject. But the Kitchen Goddess doesn’t give up without a fight, so for my family at least, I’ve offered them in purées with cooked apples, in salads tossed with oranges and a light vinaigrette, in a lovely gingery cream soup...

I’m always looking for a new way to serve these red beauties, and to my hubby’s credit, he’ll generally try at least a taste. He actually liked this pork tenderloin presentation – the beet skins do a great job of keeping the pork moist, and they add nicely earthy notes to the meat. But when I offered him the raw beet salad – after all, the writer in The New York Times claimed that even people who swear they hate beets love this salad – he cautioned me, “Let’s not get carried away, Lee. In the end,... it’s beets.”

* * *

The Kitchen Goddess bets you are now thinking, “So, I make this recipe and then I’m stuck with a bunch of raw beets.” Patience, Grasshopper. It’s true that in the current trend to consume all parts of a plant, it’s not often you get to start with the skin. Usually, that’s the part you really want to throw away, even if it makes you feel guilty. Well, guilt no more. Buy a bunch of beets with those big gorgeous leaves intact. Then: (1) ribbon the leaves and add them to a soup or sauté them for a pasta dish; (2) peel the beets and use the peel with your pork tenderloin; and, finally, (3) shred the peeled beets for a crisp, tangy salad that you’ll find at the bottom of this post.

Beet-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from Food & Wine magazine, November 2015

Serves 6.

Peels from 1-1½ pounds beets (red or yellow – wash them well first!), ideally about 1½ cups of peel
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 pork tenderloins, about 1¼ pounds each
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Garnish: drizzle of olive oil, and lemon wedges

Put the peels into the bowl of a food processor with the salt and caraway seeds, and process well to produce a finely ground paste.

Pat the pork dry with paper towels, and lay the tenderloins on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat half the paste onto each piece of meat, and allow the tenderloins with the paste to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400º. Drizzle each tenderloin with a tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with a few fresh grinds of black pepper.

Roast 25-30 minutes at 400º, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the center of the meat reads 135º. Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing the tenderloins into ½-inch thick rounds. Lightly drizzle the sliced meat with olive oil, and serve with lemon wedges.

Kitchen Goddess note: The peel paste can be made a day or two ahead and kept in a jar in the fridge.

And now that you have those nicely peeled, raw beets...

Grated Raw Beet Salad

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman in The New York Times (July 7, 2010)

Serves 6.

1-1½ pounds raw beets, peeled
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
4 tablespoons minced parsley or mint (or a combination of the two)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For serving: small romaine lettuce leaves, or baby arugula, or watercress

Grate the peeled beets using a food processor fitted with a shredding blade, and set aside.

In a small bowl or jar, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, and olive oil and mix well. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put the grated beets into a medium-sized bowl, and toss them well with the dressing.

 Adjust seasoning to taste, and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before serving. Serve on romaine lettuce leaves or a bed of baby arugula or watercress.

Kitchen Goddess note: This salad actually improves with age – the beet juices mix deliciously with the citrus juices. So if you want to make it a day or two before serving, just keep it tightly covered, in the fridge. Be sure to toss the salad well before serving.

Or have it for lunch with some crackers and bleu cheese and a few leaves of endive.

1 comment:

  1. Hah! Never thought of that, but you're right: We grew up in an era where fruit was (mostly) fresh, but vegetables were canned, frozen, boiled or steamed. I'm trying to remember the first time I ever had a fresh vegetable...and I guess it would be sliced tomatoes on a BBQ burger. Wow. Thanks for reminding me just how bad my mother's cooking was .