Carrots are fascinating plants. Most people don’t know that they have a two year lifespan – mostly because gardeners value them for their taproot for eating and they are harvested at the end of the first season. Their flowers are lovely tiny bouquets that look similar to dill flowers, a non-accidental resemblance since they are closely related. Isn’t it beautiful? They smell lovely too! The flowers come out in the second year.
I didn’t discover this until one day when I realized I had one sad, old carrot in my refrigerator crisper. It was growing tiny roots off of the main taproot and I felt sorry for it, so I planted it and it flowered! I was amazed! All those years on the farm and I never knew until I became a city girl. I’m so glad I did that!
You see, people used to value carrots for their leaves and seeds – eating the root is a fairly modern development. The colour orange is also fairly new – this colour was bred into the carrots to celebrate William of Orange, a Dutchman who was instrumental in the revolution against Spain. Before then, carrots were mostly white, yellow, red and purple.
Anyway, I’ve never liked carrots. They were on the table in great quantity while I was growing up, but it doesn’t make me nostalgic for them. I didn’t like them because they were cooked. To the point of mushiness. Carrots don’t turn out any other way….do they?
Actually, carrots CAN be cooked in such a way as to make them firm yet tender with a bright, sweet taste that will really surprise you! Layered in a glaze of chicken broth and butter, we couldn’t stop at one. The entire batch disappeared within minutes!
The secret is slowcooking – first at a low temperature and then at a high temperature. This happens with a little help from two lids: a paper one and a regular lid. Let me show you.
Enter several unsuspecting carrots, peeled and ready for adventure.
Cut out a sheet of parchment paper that is slightly larger than the circumference of the frying pan you are going to use. Cut a small hole in the centre of the circle that you have made.
In culinary speak, this is a cartouche. (Sounds exotic, no? Time for bellydancing music! Excitement! In case you haven’t any in your playlist, here’s something to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHLwAB3XAsI)
Alright, down to business. Put 1 Tbsp butter, 1 cup of chicken stock and 2 cups of water in the frying pan.
Put the burner on fairly high – the butter has to melt and you want a rolling boil.
Turn off the burner and move the frying pan to a cold burner. Put in the carrots so that they lay in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.
Put the cartouche on top and then the regular lid for the pan.
You see, the liquid gently cooks the carrots at low temperature since there is only the residual heat in the liquid which is cooling rapidly already. Leave it off the heat for 20 minutes and dance – it builds anticipation for supper!
Turn the burner to medium high and put the frying pan on it. Take the lid off, but not the cartouche. You need the paper to keep the steam in to cook the tops of the carrots.
Let the carrots enjoy the high simmer for 45 minutes this way. Then, discard the cartouche and let the remainder of the cooking liquid boil off. During this time, jiggle the pan to ensure that the liquid is splashing up the sides of the carrots and making them move so that they don’t scorch. Is the music still on? You’re going to need it for all that pan-jiggling!
When all of the liquid is gone, plate them.
Enjoy! I know I did – that’s the most carrots I’ve eaten in YEARS.
Nutrition (per carrot)
- Calories: 44
- Fat: 1.5g
- Carbs: 4.5g
- Protein: 1.6g