Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Let's Eat Carrots

I am completely in love with Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. It is a big, weighty cookbook, but without being too serious. Each time I open it, I feel as though Dorie has invited me into her kitchen and is cooking alongside me (this is also a fantasy of mine, but that is another story). It is one of those rare finds where I literally want to make every single recipe. Even better, the ones I have made have, without exception, turned out beautifully, and several are officially in my regular rotation.

This recipe, for Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots, is one of my favorites. It happened by accident; I found myself with too many carrots and after looking at several cookbooks, I decided on this recipe. One of my favorite things about Around My French Table is that the pictures are gorgeous, showcasing the simple beauty of the food. Not highly stylized, but rather accessible and, well, homey. Being somewhat shallow, I nearly did not make this recipe because it is one of the few without a photograph to lure me in. Fortunately, Dorie's description sold me, and Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots entered my life.

The spices, fresh ginger and cardamom, are infused into some butter with onions and just a little garlic (and I listened to Dorie and took her more modest approach to garlic than I often take). When everything is soft and fragrant, you add the carrots with some chicken stock and let everything get all warm and happy in the pan. After the carrots are soft, which doesn't take long at all, you take off the lid and let everything reduce and all of the flavor concentrate. You are left with delectably soft carrots with a sauce of fragrant and warm spices, and onions that are practically melted in just enough butter to be delicious without being heavy. It is comfort food at its finest.

This recipe is supposed to serve 6 people. As it turns out, my husband and I are carrot gluttons, because this served two of us, with us fighting over who had eaten more, who would get the last bite. If that is not the mark of a good side dish, I don't know what is. If you are a person who thinks you don't like carrots, please allow this to be the recipe that converts you (I'm talking to you, Carolyn!).

Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

The cardamom is so special in this recipe that they shouldn't be skipped; if you don't have any, I encourage you to run out and buy some (sold in spice stores or in many bulk spice sections of supermarkets). To get the seeds out, simply smash the pods with the side of a knife, then pull out the dark seeds, and also crush them with the side of the knife.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon minced ginger, fresh or jarred
5 cardamom pods, seeds removed and lightly crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1.5 pounds carrots, sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the onion, ginger and cardamom seeds, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add the carrots and stir to coat them with the butter. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and let cook until the carrots are tender, but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, and turn the heat up to high and cook until the broth is almost completely evaporated. All that should remain is the butter to glaze the carrots. Reseason with salt and pepper if necessary, and garnish with parsley leaves if desired.

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