Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Polish Shredded Beets: Buraki

Plate of Buraki and Greens Garnished with Lemon
Buraki with Greens

Recipe adapted from Polish Cooking

Once again I’ve become obsessed with exploring my Polish cooking heritage, largely as a result of my new cookbook, Polish Cooking, which jogged memories of family feasts from my childhood. Plus we received beets from our CSA this week. What could be more Polish than beets? Not the most popular vegetable in its simply boiled state, the beet can be modified in simple ways to look and taste more appealing—as it is in this simple recipe.

Buraki Cooking in Saute Pan
Lovely Magenta Color
Buraki, the popular Polish side dish, begins with cooked, grated beets. A combination of small amounts of butter, flour, sour cream, and lemon juice make a thick and rich sauce that binds the beet bits together and lightens their color to a pleasing magenta. The sweetness of the beets is emphasized, and we found that the solidly bound texture is best complimented with steamed beet greens topped with lemon and salt. The greens provide contrast with a moistness and earthy flavor that is the perfect foil for the sweet richness of the beets.  

Closeup of Buraki with Lemon and Parsley
Closeup of Unusual Texture
I cut the original recipe in half, so feel free to double it. I also substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream and reduced the amount of flour by ¼ teaspoon. Feel free to play around with the proportions of butter, yogurt, lemon juice, and flour if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Shredded Beets, Lemon, Yogurt, Butter, Flour
Just a Few Ingredients
Buraki: Polish Shredded Beets
serves 2 – 3

¾ lb. young beets with greens
½ tsp. salt
4½ tsp. Greek yogurt
1¼ tsp. all purpose flour
1½ tsp. lemon juice
1½ tsp. butter
2 – 3 pinches salt
salt, pepper, and lemon wedges for serving

Cut off beet greens and root ends. Scrub beets and place in medium saucepan. Just cover with water and add ½ tsp. salt, or to taste. Bring water to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and cover tightly. Allow to cook until fork-tender, about 30 minutes, or more if beets are older or larger.

Prepare the beet greens by washing thoroughly, then chopping the stems into ¾ inch pieces. Place stems in a steamer basket over boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes, until slightly tender. Meanwhile, cut the beet leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add to steamer basket. Steam for 5 minutes, or until tender. Set aside and keep warm.

When beets are tender, rinse and let cool enough to handle. Peel beets by slipping skins off. Grate beets and drain off any excess liquid.

In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and flour until smooth. Stir in lemon juice. Set aside.

Melt butter in small sauté pan. Stir in grated beets and sauté until butter is absorbed and beets are completely heated. Gently stir in yogurt mixture. Season with 3 pinches salt, or to taste. Gently stir over medium heat until beets are hot and sauce is thick and glossy.

Serve beets immediately. Accompany beets with beet greens topped with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of salt. Serve with salt, pepper, and lemon wedges. 

Sunburst of Butter Melting in Pan
A Little Butter Makes it Better
Plate of Buraki with Greens and Lemon Slice
Uses Every Part of Spring Beets

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