Oeufs en pattypan cocotte with outrageous beet carpaccio

Outrageous? Well, yes. Outrageous for several reasons. First, I have frequently felt outraged, for no good reason, at restaurants that call anything sliced thinly “carpaccio”. You know; carpaccio of canteloupe, watermelon carpaccio, etcetera etcetera. But when I sliced these beets, they looked and felt so deliciously beefy that there was no doubt what I was making. I had previously suspected that carpaccio had to be beef. I thought the very word might be Italian for a particular cow or cut or something specifically bovine, although I also harbored a nagging suspicion that it might just be Italian for “thinly sliced”.

So I looked it up. Delightful. Invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice for some aristocratic countess who would only eat raw meat, the dish was named after a Venetian renaissance painter, Vittore Carpaccio,  because it reminded owner Giuseppe Cipriani of the colors in his paintings. He would approve of these beets.

Second, I’m outraged that the beets were made not by me, but by Kyla, who roasted them up for last night’s salad, so I can’t really take full credit.

Third, the roasting of the beets was performed outrageously, by encasing them in a wet mixture of salt, lavender and thyme.

Fourth, the outrageous roasting recipe was from Sunset magazine, as was the recipe for the pattypan squash eggs. As much as I’d like to be all edgy and cool and be cooking stuff from Lucky Peach or the latest hipster cookbook, no. Sunset. It’s actually from the Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook. Which is great.

Fifth, I ruined the photo, above, by selecting too shallow a depth of field, so I’m outraged that you can’t clearly see the stupid carpaccio.

Lastly, the carpaccio was outrageously delicious.

First, the beets:

Preheat the oven to 425°. Take good beets of any kind. One and a half to two pounds. Kyla had a bunch of four big ones from the farm and that was just about right. Cut off the tops and tips and scrub them a little.

Mix 3 pounds of kosher salt with four egg whites, 1/3 cup of fresh thyme and 1/4 cup of lavender, plus two tablespoons of black peppercorns and 1/2 a cup of water. I know; it’s outrageous. It feels like wet sand.

Put a 1/4-inch layer of that in the bottom of your roasting pan and put your beets on top of it. Then dump the rest of the salt mix on and press it down to fully entomb the beets.

Bake them for an hour and fifteen minutes and then crack the crust open to break them free.

Kyla made a salad of them with fresh farm greens and an avocado. Lovely.

The carpaccio for the next morning’s brunch was simple; shave a leftover beet with a mandolin and lay out the slices. Top with the sweetest, smallest, tenderest baby greens plucked from the garden. A squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of your best olive oil, and that’s it.

The eggs:

Another piece of sheer madness inspired by the Sunset book, and perfect for the pattypans that are just now rolling out of the Aylmer Backyard farms.

Preheat the oven to 375° Cut the tops off and scoop out all but a quarter inch of the inside of some pattypans. Rub them with oil and season with salt and pepper, and roast them for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute some of the farm’s spring onions and new garlic. The garlic is huge this year!

I also had some leftover enoki mushrooms in the fridge, so I sauteed those up after the garlic and onions for a garnish.

Line the pattypans with the onions and the garlic and a touch of grated parmesan. Crack an egg into each one and then back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

Top with a little nest of enokis and some sage from the garden, and salt and pepper.

The drink was a fresh-squeezed lavender lemon-limeade with mezcal and lavender bitters. Nice. And garnish everything with flowers, of course.

Words and pictures: Rob Bitschofsky

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