This is an amazing combination of flavors. So simple and elegant. The salt crust looked fun to make so I tried it, but I won't be attempting it again as it's too time-consuming for what you get as a result - pure saltiness with none of the orange and thyme flavors coming through. The horseradish crème fraîche is a keeper though, and I'm rather addicted to its flavor. Last night, I made a new batch of simple roasted beets in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, peeled them, and gobbled them up with the leftover crème fraîche on top of warm red quinoa. So delicious!
Note on crème fraîche: If you can't find crème fraîche, it's easy to make at home by adding 2 tablespooons of buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream. Let it sit at room temperature until thickened, up to 24 hours. You can expand or extend the life of the crème fraîche by reserving 2 tablespoons of it, and adding it to another cup of heavy cream and letting it sit again in room temperature up to 24 hours. I'm growing crème fraîche in my apartment this way now, and it not only does it allows me to choose my organic dairy ingredients, but it somehow makes me feel like I'm utilizing what's given to us freely by nature - oxygen and bacteria - to add something great to my pantry. If I can't grow a garden, I might as well grow crème fraîche, right?
Note on the horseradish: At RestoX, I've been taught to cover it in rice vinegar as soon as it's grated to keep it from changing color, which happens quickly. You just need a touch of the vinegar, enough to turn the horseradish a bit doughy, like the wasabi you get at sushi restaurants.
Recipe: Horseradish crème fraîche with salt-crusted beets
Adapted from Epicurious, courtesy of Dan Barber
IngredientsHorseradish Crème Fraîche:
1 cup crème fraîche (8 ounces)
1 tablespoon grated horseradish (more to taste, if desired)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
2 cups coarse kosher salt
5 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
3 large unpeeled beets (each about 8 ounces), trimmed, scrubbed
PreparationFor horseradish crème fraîche: Whisk crème fraîche, horseradish, chopped chives, and Sherry wine vinegar in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix coarse salt, horseradish, thyme, and orange peel in medium bowl. Place three 3-tablespoon mounds of salt mixture on small rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart. Top each salt mound with 1 beet, then cover all beets with remaining salt mixture, pressing very firmly with hands and forming crust around each beet, covering completely.
Roast beets 1 3/4 hours. Remove from oven; crack salt crusts open and remove beets. Peel beets; cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange beet slices on platter. Serve with horseradish crème fraîche.