Monday, April 7, 2014

Color: Cinnamon Chipotle Beet Chips

Let me start out by stating this; I have had a lifelong dislike for beets. Utter disdain for those finger-staining, dirt-tasting, why-do-they-put-eggs-in-their-juice vegetables. As for other strange tasting foods or stomach churning ones, I always revert back to my rationale of "Why would I eat that when I could eat (insert steak, bacon, meat, steak) instead? That logic worked until...
Ew. Canned dirt.

Until I ended up being fiscally responsible for the usage of fresh beets. Not the canned monstrosities of salad bars, but 25 lbs of golden beets staring me in the face. As a chef being responsible for the financial well being of my kitchen, I felt dutifully required to execute such a task.

So as I scanned and scoured my brain-space for ideas, I happened to glance over at a mandoline. The idea tumbled out of my brain like an overturned box of fat beets: "I shall chip them!" Is chipping a verb in the way that I said it? Don't know, but calling it that from now on. I slapped on a glove (no beet fingers for this guy) and got to work.

So as I prepared to chip these fat beets, I hummed and hawed about what to put on them. I wanted salty for sure, but I wanted something to also compliment the inherent sweetness of the beet. All the while I sliced them on the mandoline, with no intention of really eating them beyond tasting a fried crispy dirt chip, that was reasonably seasoned.

Imagine my shocked surprise after first, seeing how they retained their color (which at the time was the only redeeming factor for me), then, after blasting them with a seasoning that would stand up to the rustic flavor... I actually enjoyed it. Okay, so enjoyed is a little light, I started housing them. Couldn't keep my hands off of them. They were delightful. Light, crispy and flavorful, so far removed from the beets that I grew up hating, that it was an enlightening moment.

I mean, these beets weren't transcendental, but it amazed me that the most popular way to serve them is the canned version. And this is what irritates me about the industrial state of our food currently. If I was able to eat those chips as a kid, I would have grown up probably loving beets. But, no. I had to half puke and think that these moist, earth laden purple things were all there is.

Anyways.... TL:DR; Hated beets, took fresh ones, chipped them, fried them, seasoned them, loved them. Here's the recipe.
Tasty, crispy, not gross, not dirt. 

2 lbs red beets sliced thin on a mandoline
2 lbs golden beets (if available) sliced thin on a mandoline
Cold water to cover
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 quarts of oil, heated to 350 degrees

1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp ground chipotle
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground pepper

1. Slice beets 1/16th inch thin on a mandoline, and place in cold water w/ one Tbsp of salt per color of beet. Soak for 1/2 hour. Make sure to keep colors separate so the purple doesn't stain the gold.
2. Mix all seasoning ingredients together.
3. Remove beets from water and drain thoroughly. Fry small batches of the golden beets first in the oil. They will float, so keep them moving in the oil, until they slightly brown, and the rings become prominent. Once done, remove and drain over paper towels.
4.  Repeat until all of the golden beets are fried, then repeat with the red beets, until all of your crispy treats are done. Check the seasoning, taste, and eat. Enjoy!