Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Crispy Baked Beet Chips (that aren’t burnt)

You don't fix the problem until you define it. – John W. Snow


This recipe is posted in loving appreciation of our mothers, who tried their best to get us to eat things we didn't want to. Most times with a pinch of thanks and a pound of opposition. We love you.

My previous burnt beet chips.
And these were the "good" ones.
I’ve made beet chips before, about as successfully as most of the other home cooks that have posted comments online. In other words, very unsuccessfully. To contribute to the overall betterment of our species, I felt it fell upon my shoulders to fix the problem.

Most online recipes aver such confidence-inducing statements as “crispy, baked beets in XX minutes!” or “this recipe is so easy...”. Well, yes, it is easy, or at least slicing beets with a mandolin is easy. 

But 30 minutes at the most commonly listed temperature of 375°F? That is where things go downhill. Quickly. Have you ever tasted a burnt beet slice? I recommend that you don’t. They’re ugly.

Four medium beets is probably enough for 2 people.
375°F is just too high, especially when non-adjustable mandolins slice food paper thin. You know what I mean by paper thin: like potato chip thin. When one is touting a recipe as beet “chips” they should be “chips” as opposed to beet slabs. Slabs are the only way I can figure the beets in those recipes didn't burn.

The first time I made these—they’re very low calorie—I ate about half of the slices I put into the oven. The other half were burnt beyond consumption. I believe even my compost bin ejected them. I followed the recipe to a “T,” and carefully watched them. It took seconds to go from not-quite-dry-enough to charcoal.

So something had to be done, because the ones that weren’t burnt were pretty good. I hate to put in 100% effort on a 50% return.

But there's more to this post than just the satisfaction of making a recipe work. One medium beet (2” / 5 cm wide) has 35 calories. That’s the same as a slice of “calorie-wise” Kraft swiss cheese food. (“Food” – it’s that way on the packaging.) Plus beets have a significant amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory betalains. And don’t forget potassium, dietary fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The red also colours whatever's in your stomach, so the
next morning don't be startled if things look unusual...
So as you can see, it’s a shame to waste them by burning the heck out of them. And before you say you don't like beets – no, they don’t taste like dirt. The sugars get concentrated. They taste like heaven.

I took a cue from the sweet potato chews I used to make for our Bouvier, Henry. They’re posted on this site if you want to look them up. They ended up not being so much chewy as crisp. They took a couple hours, being much thicker, but the magic was in the oven temperature. They were baked at a low temperature. No burning.

So that’s what I did, and if you follow the recipe below you will have success. I made two trays, one sprinkled with ground ginger and one with ground rosemary, plus salt.

If you like #stormchips but not so much the fat they’re fried in, give these a try. You’ll be surprised how delicious and guilt-free they are.


Crispy Baked Beet Chips
Time, including baking: 45 min
4 medium beets, washed well, stems removed
4 tsp olive oil
salt to taste
optional: ground ginger, sage, ground cumin, 5-spice powder, or orange zest

After 35 minutes at 265°F. They crisped up in about a minute after being
removed from the oven. And not one was burned.

Preheat the oven to 265°F.

Slice the beets, using a mandolin slicer. Divide the olive oil between two cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. Cover the entire surface.

Lay the beet slices in the pans without touching. Sprinkle with salt and then your favourite optional spice or herb topping.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, check the slices. They should be curled but still deep red. If you wish, bake for 5 minutes more, but watch them like a hawk.

Remove from the oven and let cool. They will crisp up as they cool.

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2 comments:

  1. i am not a big fan of beets but i really like beet chips!

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  2. I just made these from another blogger's recipe at 375 temp and not only are they almost burnt, but they never crisped up. They're soggy! Now I did use non-stick aluminum foil and wonder if that is what made them soggy. I'm not giving up and will use your recipe next!

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