Serves4 (first course)
- Active Time:10 min
- Start to Finish:2 1/4 hr
ADAPTED FROM ALAIN PASSARD
Alain Passard uses sea salt for his crust, but we took the liberty of substituting kosher salt, since to use such a large quantity of sea salt would be prohibitively expensive.
kosher salt (about 7 1/3 cups)
5 to 6
large egg whites
(6- to 7-ounces) trimmed red beets (2 to 3 inches in diameter)
Aged balsamic vinegar (preferably 25-year-old; see Cooks' note, below), for drizzling
Put oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 300ºF.
Put salt in a large bowl and stir in enough egg whites, 1 at a time, to make a mixture that resembles wet sand. Form a 1/2-inch-thick oval bed of salt mixture (large enough to fit beets; about 2 1/2 cups salt mixture) in a large shallow baking pan. Put beets in center of oval and pack remaining salt mixture on beets to completely cover them. Bake beets in salt crust 2 hours.
Crack salt crust open with a large knife, being careful not to cut into beets. Remove beets and peel with a sharp paring knife. Rinse beets if necessary to remove any remaining skin and salt, then pat dry.
Quarter beets and serve warm, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Twenty-five-year-old balsamic vinegar is available online at gustiamo.com