From Dish Danielle:
It’s a tough time of year to plan a dinner party menu. I’m yearning for the bright bounty of Spring– and although March 20 has already passed, my beloved season full of twitterpation isn’t really here… just yet. I sat down to brainstorm on this Saturday’s W&L supper, hoping to compose a menu that trumpeted Springs arrival, but quickly realized that we’d have to strike a delicate balance between dwindling winter and not-quite-but-almost-here spring. I mean, it was close to freezing all weekend for heaven’s sake. So, what‘s a dish to do about the dessert course? Beet Gelato, that’s what.
And, if we’re gonna go for it, we might as well take our cues from the powers that be. Thomas Keller’s recipe is practically flawless.
2 lbs red beets, peeled & quartered
2 c heavy cream
2 c milk
¾ c sugar
8 egg yolks
Keller recommends running the beets through a juicer. For a home cook like me who doesn’t have one, here’s how to start:
Preheat your oven to 350. Hit beets with olive oil, wrap fist size bundles of ‘em in foil, and stick in oven. Only par-roast, until just starting to soften (20-25min). Drain olive oily drippings and throw beets into food processor or blender with the water. Once pulverized, drain pulp of ALL liquid by setting a fine mesh strainer over bowl and pressing with wooden spoon.
Use yer elbow grease and get as much beautiful bright beet liquid out as possible! Place juice in small saucepan and reduce over low heat, skimming as necessary, to about 1/4 c. Strain concentrated beet juice and place in fridge for later.
In medium pot, combine beet pulp with cream and milk. Bring to a simmer, cover, and remove from heat for about 30 min, allowing the beets to super duper infuse.
Strain pulp from the milk/cream and measure out 3 c (TK says to discard any extra, but I saved mine for a smaller batch of the gelato I’d make the following day). Return liquid to pot, add half the sugar, and bring back to a simmer, stirring slowly.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar. Gradually whisk about 1/3 of hot liquid into yolks to temper. Return mixture to saucepan and low heat, stirring, until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a spoon (5-10min).
Pour custard through a strainer (I know—one last strain! This will catch any cooked eggy bits…) and into a bowl set in an ice-water bath. Stir to cool.
Cover and refrigerate for few hours until completely cold, or overnight for the creamiest texture. ( I recommend overnight.)
If you happen to have an immersion blender, it’s worth buzzing the custard just before running it though your ice cream machine. This will maximize the gelato’s creaminess (so says my pastry chef roommate & guest dish, Jessie, and she’s absolutely right). Add the reduced beet juice to the custard and run through an ice cream machine.
Store in freezer for at least 2 hours before enjoying beet heaven.
I served mine atop a Gruyere and Pine Nut Tart. I think my favorite part about this dessert was that my lipstick matched my gelato. Ain’t nothin’ like a sexy kinda-still-winter-not-yet-spring-dessert.