To make Harvard beets, cook beets by boiling or roasting them and then toss them in a sauce made with vinegar, sugar, salt and butter. This slightly sweet, slightly tangy side dish can be made using canned beets as a shortcut.
The traditional recipe calls for roasting 2 pounds of washed, trimmed beets that have approximately 1 inch of the leaf stems and all of the root intact. Wrap the beets in foil and roast them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes or until the beets are tender. Allow them to cool before peeling the skin and slicing the beets 1/4 inch thick.
In a double boiler, combine the following sauce ingredients: 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 whole cloves. Whisk the mixture, cooking it over medium heat until it's clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the sliced beets, turn the heat down to medium-low or low and simmer the dish for 20 minutes. Stir 2 tablespoons of butter into the mixture right before serving it.
For a faster cooking dish, drain 1 can of beets, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. In a saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients and cook it over low heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir the beets into the sauce, simmer it for 10 minutes and add the butter.