I came upon this technique by accident a few years ago when I was searching for a different way to cook root vegetables and was immediately intrigued. No different than salt-baking a fish, crusting a beet, or any root vegetable for that matter, in a mixture of egg whites and salt creates a flavor unlike any other roasting method. The salt and egg whites completely surround the vegetable, trapping all of the sweetness and nutrients inside.
Think about the last time you boiled a beet… when it was done, the water was the same color as the beet. Well, when you salt-bake a beet all that color and sweetness stay in, resulting in one of the best tasting, most vibrant beets you will ever try. In the simple recipe below I suggest using gold or chioggia beets because you will be astounded at how beautiful they are when cooked, as opposed to the red ones which are just… red. I have served these to many folks who aren’t huge fans of beets who have been totally turned around because of the flavor and sweetness. My hope is that even if they are not your favorite vegetable, you will try this preparation and hopefully begin to love them. Enjoy!
By Brandon Foster, Project Angel Heart executive chef
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
- 1 pound gold or chioggia beets, rinsed well, unpeeled
- 1 cup egg whites, pasteurized*
- 3 cups kosher salt
- parchment paper
*I suggest buying a carton of egg whites for this recipe. Because it is all going in the oven, it’s not unsafe to use the whites from whole eggs, but it will leave you with a bunch of yolks to use up.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the egg whites and kosher salt in a mixing bowl to form a paste. The consistency should be similar to wet sand.
Place some parchment paper on a sheet tray. Pack each beet individually in the salt/egg mixture so that it is completely covered. Place each beet on the sheet tray, arranging them near the middle of the tray as the egg whites and salt will expand as the beets cook.
Cook at 400 degrees for one to one and a half hours, or until the beets are fork tender. (To check this, use a mallet or the handle of a knife to crack the salt crust, then poke the beet with a fork to check. If it is not ready, simply replace the cracked piece of crust and put it back in the oven.)
Once the beets are ready, remove from the oven and crack the salt crust off of each beet. Let them cool. Then peel and cut however you would like and saute them lightly with some olive oil.
Brandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside of the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.