I do not claim to have ever loved beets. Sometimes I think they taste like dirt. Other times, with the right treatment, they are sweet and sharp and I could actually eat a pile of them. So when two years ago, post Mill Valley Beerworks, my good buddy and very talented chef David Wilcox started cooking everything exclusively outdoors over wood fire, I came along to help out and see what he was up to with that 15# bag of beets.
Dude was up to some magic. After a long roast in the oven, he threw them on the corner of the grill to warm up and char the outsides a bit. My job was to grab the hot beets, lay my knife flat over the top, and smash them. Inky red stained hands, cutting board full of primordial root vegetable destruction, billows of steam perfuming the air with an unmistakably earthy scent...in that moment I was confirmed in my belief that I have the coolest job in the world. Topped with a pungent, bright chimichurri and suddenly I was faced with the beet dish to rule all beet dishes.
Being much less of a fire obsessive than David, I usually do mine completely in the oven. But if you happen to have a grill going, throw the beets on after they are fully roasted to get the whisper of smoke, which will elevate the dish even more. Chimichurri, an Argentinian herb paste, is sweetened with honey, has acidity from red wine vinegar, and heat from chile flake, garlic and shallot. The finished dish has banished my dirty beet thoughts forever.
Find the recipe: Smashed Beets with Chimichurri