Edit ModuleShow Tags

Heat-Free Cooking: Maceration


Published:

Line cooks around the metro just got a peak at Dante’s purgatorial vision of the afterlife during the historically hot holiday week. Photos of restaurant kitchen thermometers circulated around the social media universe, some of them reading 120 degrees. Line cooks have to cook in the heat—it’s their job (plus they secretly love the bragging rights). But, what do you do at home? What do you cook when the thermometer reaches damnation threshold? How about some heat-free cooking: maceration!

Maceration uses salt, sugar, or acidic liquids to soften and flavor fruits and vegetables, and can even make starchy vegetables—which usually require cooking—soft and edible without the use of heat. To understand how it works, you’ll need to dig deep and try and remember 7th grade science class—the day you did the osmosis experiment. Sprinkling a little salt on vegetables pulls out the moisture by creating an area of higher density near an area of lower density, separated by a semipermeable membrane. Those two areas of density seek to equalize, causing liquid to pass from inside the vegetables to outside, and softening the vegetable’s cells in the process. (Sorry, if I butchered that, Mr. Tysdale.)

Here is a maceration recipe that will make a convert out of all you beet haters out there and perk up some of your summer salads. For those of you who grew up with canned and mushy beets, try this fresh preparation. Start by tossing beets with a little salt, sugar, and vinegar. Watch the magic as the beets soften and go from starchy, raw and inedible, to macerated, tender and flavorful without ever sparking up the stove. Then mix in some vinaigrette, crumble a little feta, mince up mint for garnish, and rip into a crusty baguette.
 

beetsMacerated Beets

Serves 4

2-3 medium beets (any variety, red, yellow, chioga)
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Using a knife and a peeler for the skin, clean, trim and peel the beets of roots, skin, and leaves*—if present.

beetsSlice the beets as thin as possible. If you have a mandolin, this is the time to use it. If not, get out your sharpest, thinnest knife, and make thin slices. If you try your best and still can’t get thin slices with your knife, give them another cut lengthwise, making matchsticks instead. The thinness is important. It allows the salt and sugar to more easily do its job and soften the raw beets more quickly.

In a mixing bowl, toss the beets in the salt, sugar, and vinegar and allow them to macerate for roughly 10 minutes, mixing a few times to distribute the salt evenly during the process.

After the beets soften, start to “bleed,” and give up some liquid, mix them in the vinaigrette. Allow the beets to sit in the vinaigrette for at least 20 minutes. Taste the beets for salt/sugar and acid/vinegar, adding more as needed. The beets store well for a few days.

Vinaigrette
Makes roughly 1 cup

1 shallot
Pinch salt
1 tsp. minced mint
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Grind of black pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
¾ cup light flavored olive oil (preferably not extra virgin, too strong flavor)

Trim, peel, and mince the shallot and put in a medium mixing bowl large enough to whisk all the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Toss the shallots with the salt. Wait five to ten minutes for the shallots to soften and release moisture (more maceration, used here to soften the flavor of raw shallots).

Remove the mint leaves from the stems and finely mince them with a chefs knife and a rocking motion cut.

Stir the minced mint, Dijon mustard, black pepper, and vinegar into the macerated shallots.

Slowly whisk in the oil. Taste the vinaigrette and add salt, vinegar, or oil, as needed.

This vinaigrette stores well for most of the week and can be served with any salad from simple mixed greens to pasta, potato, or tomato.

Serve with salad greens, feta, minced mint, and a baguette.

*Save the greens for when the temperature drops and sauté them with a little garlic, as you might spinach or other tender/tough greens.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Pineapple in Every Bite Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Enjoy this twist on the classic cake with chunks of sweet, juicy pineapple maximizing the fruit-to-cake ratio in every taste

3 Drinks to Give Winter the Kiss-Off

West Seventh in St. Paul is bursting with drink options to usher in spring (which is just around the corner, right?)

Minnesota-Grown Greens Now Available Year Round

New locally and sustainably produced Revol Greens makes eating clean and green throughout the year even easier

What to Buy for the Perfect Minnesota Home Bar

From vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, and beyond: Minnesota spirit-makers recommend the best home-bar companions

Quick Moroccan Chicken over Couscous Recipe

Enjoy the exotic flavors of a long-simmered tagine in this easy version that’s quick enough for a weeknight

No-Fail Caramel Corn Recipe

Celebrate National Caramel Corn Day with this sweet crunchy treat—no special equipment needed with this easy recipe

Best Restaurant Bargains Before A Target Field Minnesota Twins Game

They're offering baseball specials, but do you know where to go? Check out these good deals on food before Twins games.

3 Things to Eat This Week: April 4-8

Tropical cake, drinkable flowers, and some mouth-searing spice

Edina Bistro Celebrates National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

Pinstripes offers a sophisticated twist on the childhood favorite with a five-course meal for two in honor of PB&J Day (April 2)
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags