Sweet & Sour Beets

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Beets are one of those love-em or hate-em kind of foods.  When I was very little my mother convinced me to eat them by telling me they made my blood red.  I didn’t especially like them then but I certainly didn’t want my blood to be any other color than red so I dutifully ate them.

There is really no other vegetable like them.  Their sugar content is so high, that the cultivar known as sugar beets are grown strictly to process for sugar.  And yet no one moons over their sweet flavor the way we do corn or winter squash.  Their intense red color can make your kitchen look like you had a terrible accident with your paring knife and they need to be kept in quarantine lest all other parts of your dish have the same crimson color.

I started liking beets when I began to grow them on our farm and discovered how delectable they are fresh. If your only experience with beets are the rubbery cubes poured from a can into a salad bar, you should give them another try fresh from the farmers’ market.

This is a beautiful sweet and sour beet recipe.  Orange juice and a finishing drizzle of Smoked maple syrup complement the sweetness while a dose of cider vinegar gives them a little edge. Chopped chives balance the dish with a bit of onion and gorgeous green contrast.

Sweet and Sour Beets

  • 2 – 3 large beets, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbs Smoked Maple Syrup plus more to drizzle
  • 2 tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 whole star anise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tb butter
  • 2 tbs chopped chives

Put the peeled, sliced beets in a wide, shallow pan and add the orange juice, garlic, maple syrup, vinegar, star anise and sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Turn on high to bring to a boil then lower to simmer and cover.  Let the beets braise for 10 minutes or until tender, turning every so often to coat with the liquid.  When they are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a serving plate.  Add a pat of butter to the remaining sauce, simmer until thickened and season to taste.  Pour the sauce over the beets, sprinkle with the chives and then drizzle with a little extra Smoked maple if desired.