If you didn’t know already, I live in Texas, and it’s taken some time [about 3 years] but I really like it [come on, I’m a New Yorker, it’s bound to take some time to adjust]. While I like to eat healthy I’ve learned that there’s something really special about freshly made fried food [stick with me here]. They do it all down here, especially around the time of the State Fair of Texas, held right here in Dallas. It’s held in the fall and you can pretty much get anything deep-fried. Oreos, butter, sandwiches, beer, burgers. You can also get a real huge turkey leg and walk around chomping on it like it’s no big deal. It’s a lovely lovely time usually followed by a detox.
Anyways a little fried food never hurt anyone, especially when it’s homemade. So basically what I’m saying is that while I used to look at vegetable and think, hmmm, I bet I could roast or caramelize that, now I think, I bet I can fry that. Fried avocado, now that is good. Fried portabella’s – yum!
Recently I was in Austin visiting a friend and came across fried beets. I was mesmerized. Beets? I’d come to love beets as an adult, but beets are for salads or for the hot pink risotto I make once a year around Valentine’s Day…Fried beets seemed…so weird, I had to try them immediately. They were so freaking good! And I have to admit, taking such a powerfully nutritious vegetable and turning it into a fried food felt sort of wicked, I loved it. It’s like when parents trick their kids into eating broccoli by smothering it in cheese…devious yes, but sometimes you’ve gotta go the distance to make a person eat a veggie.
Fried Beets with Minty Thyme Aioli PRINT RECIPE
[Prep: 10mins / Cook: 55mins / TOTAL: 1hr5mins
[8 appetizer size servings]
Minty Thyme Aioli
Start out by rinsing and peeling the beets. Your hands may turn a little (or a lot) pink, but it’s worth it. Chop the beets into large slices about 1/2 inch thick. Place them in a large skillet, toss with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Let boil for about 5 minutes, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the beets are cooking you can make the minty thyme aioli. I usually do this in a small food processor, but you can also do it by hand…it just takes a little more patience and time. Roughly chop up the mint and remove the thyme leaves from their stems, mix together in the food processor with the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Slowly incorporate the oil a little at a time. The mixture should slowly emulsify. Refrigerate.
Once the beets are done cooking [you can test them with a fork, they should pierce easily and slide off] remove them from the skillet, and let cool for about 5 minutes [until they are cool enough to handle].
While the beets are cooling off, rinse out the large skillet you were just using, making sure to wipe it dry, add 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil and put over med-high heat. In a medium bowl combine the flour and seltzer, salt, pepper and cayenne. The consistency should be like sour cream, if it’s too thin add a little more flour, if it’s too thick, a little more seltzer. The thicker the better it coats the beets. Prepare a plate covered in paper towels or newspaper. Add a few beats to the mixture making sure they are all evenly coated. When the oil it ready, you can [carefully] flick a little water and see if it sizzles – or to be extra sure you can use a "test" beet and see if the batter turns golden when added to the oil. Transfer beets to the oil in a slotted spoon. Repeat until skillet is full with beets, wait 1 minute and then start to flip them. Beets are finished when the batter has turned golden brown. Transfer to platter and let paper soak up some of the oil. Repeat until all beets are finished. Serve on a fresh platter with aioli. Enjoy!
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