At my elementary school, we were often subjected to “glazed carrots,” which somehow combined the worst elements of candy and vegetables. Simultaneously tasteless and grossly sweet (even to eight year-olds), a lot of glazed carrots wound up in the dumpster behind Duncan Chapel Elementary.
Needless to say, I am wary of sweetened carrots. But, sick of roasting carrots, I tried a Deborah Madison recipe for glazed carrots. And guess what? It turns out that glazing good carrots with a SMALL amount of sugar actually yields edible results. Good results, in fact.
My favorite thing about this recipe is that it really doesn’t require anything you shouldn’t always have on hand. Aside from carrots that is.
Carroty goodness after the jump.
Start with about two pounds of carrots. Peel them if you like/think they need it. (As a general rule of thumb, if carrots are very fresh, they need only be scrubbed, but any carrots you buy that aren’t from a farm stand or don’t look fresh from the earth ought to be peeled.) Chop the carrots up any way you like. The pieces should be of roughly equal size, but you really don’t need to do anything fancy here.
In a large saucepan or small stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter. When it’s hot, add the carrots. Cook for a couple of minutes until all the carrots are shiny and coated in butter. Add water to just barely cover the carrots along with salt and 1-2 tablespoons sugar to taste.
Bring water to a boil, reduce heat until the liquid is just simmering, and then cover these puppies up and go about your business.
And what are we doing now class? That’s right! Braising! You have been paying attention. Have a gold star. And a carrot.
Alright, check back on the carrots every five minutes or so. The water should be almost gone after about 20 minutes:
At this point raise the heat a little bit and cook off the last of the liquid. After the liquid is gone, you’re left with a thickish, carroty, sugary glaze. The longer you cook the carrots at this point, the thicker and more caramelized the glaze will become. So just keep cooking to taste, but be careful not to burn the glaze or reduce the carrots to absolute mush.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. And that, as they say, is that.
Just a few other ideas for this dish:
1. Add fresh herbs just as the liquid is almost evaporated. Rosemary would be good. Dill. Ooh, maybe even cinnamon? Cayenne pepper? Mmm…
2. Use parsnips (a white carrot-like vegetable that is just delicious) along with the carrots.
3. Use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar in the braising liquid.
4. Package up a serving of carrots and FedEx them to the ancient cafeteria lady at your elementary school. Maybe she’ll take a hint.