4 medium-size beets (about the size of a tennis ball), washed and tops removed
1 medium-size shallot, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons capers packed in salt, rinsed
4 sprigs mint
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Place beets in a small roasting pan or pie dish, fill with 1 inch of cold water and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 90 minutes, depending on the size.
Check the beets by inserting a pairing or other small knife into the center of a beet. If it goes in without resistance, the beet is ready; if there is the slightest resistance, cook more. (Take caution when removing the foil from the pan, as hot steam will have built up inside.) When cooked, remove beets from oven and cool.
Meanwhile, in a small, non-reactive sauce pan, combine the vinegar, shallots, sugar and two of the mint sprigs. Simmer gently for approximately 5 minutes. Discard mint sprigs.
Place capers in a small sieve or mesh strainer and place sieve in a small bowl so that the capers remain submerged while rinsing. Rinse under running water for about an hour to remove the salt.
Slice one of the beets on a mandolin or with a knife to 1/16th-inch thick. Set aside.
Julienne the remaining beets on a mandolin or with a knife. Place in a bowl and add two tablespoons of the vinegar reduction. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat peanut oil in a 10-inch saute pan until hot. Dust the sliced beets in the flour and fry them until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
Drain the capers and dry well with a paper towel. Fry them in the same oil and drain on towels.
Place the julienned beets into a mould or just mound them neatly onto a cool plate.
Place the fried beets and capers on top, scattering the capers. Drizzle the remaining vinegar reduction on the beets and around the plate. Then drizzle the olive oil and tear mint over top at the last moment.