The flavor of these smoky roasted beets is spectacularly concentrated
6 small fresh beets, trimmed of all but 1 inch of greens (about 1 1/4 pounds trimmed weight) and unpeeled
2 medium red onions, unpeeled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire in a grill unit that has a cover (like a Weber). Place the beets and red onions in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the skillet over the fire, cover the grill unit, and roast the vegetables at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the vegetables. You may have to leave the beets in a little longer than the onions. The onions should be soft to the touch, and a fork should pierce the beets easily. Alternatively, you can roast the beets in the skillet in a 400°F oven.
2. Remove the vegetables from the skillet with tongs. Add the stock, balsamic vinegar, and 1 teaspoon thyme to the skillet, place over high heat, and boil the liquid, scraping the bottom of the skillet, for about 4 minutes, or until it's dark, glossy brown and syrupy. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Peel the beets and onions when they're cool enough to handle. Slice the beets into julienne strips and the onions into thin rings. Spoon the liquid over the onions and beets, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and stir well to combine. Heat briefly and serve.
The flavor of these smoky roasted beets is spectacularly concentrated. Serve them warm as a side dish; they're rather high in natural sweetness and make a good accompaniment to duck, goose or pork. Serves 4