I’ve finally found a carrot dish that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. No small feat, let me tell you. Carrots have been a hit or miss proposition for me since forever. They rarely seem to capture my imagination or take me to new heights in the sensory department. For years I completely related to American author Fran Lebowitz’ take on them. They were apparently ‘acceptable as food only to those who live in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter.’
Even so, I comb my cookbooks and troll the internet looking for inspiration. But even the most trusted food sites I know leave me a little lackluster. The carrots end up tasting too saccharin sweet or too heavy with the savoriness of soy sauce or the tang of ginger. Their pure flavor does not shine through. And yet I continue to look because I want to love them so. I want to love them because I really used to love them. Hmmmmm….
I’ve identified this situation as some sort of ‘personal carrot dysfunction.’ It’s a sure shoe-in for any book of medical ailments out there, ey?
But really, I don’t understand it.
Maybe it has to do with the carrots I used to eat when I was a child. Yes, the same childhood where I walked 17 miles in the snow BAREFOOT to get to school. Exactly THAT one…) Anyway, the carrots I mention were tiny and precious and the most beautiful shade of mandarin orange and oh so so crunchy. They came from the farm of friends of my parents and I would pick them myself, practically every weekend too since we spent a lot of time there.
So whenever I was hungry, I’d walk over to their vegetable garden, crouch down in the carrot patch and look for the smallest green top that I could pluck. I knew that, once I pulled that little baby out, it would be the most wonderful combination of tender and crunchy. I barely scraped the dirt off before popping it in my mouth and munching away. I swear that even that little bit of dirt still left on tasted sweet.
It’s that level of satisfaction that eludes me. And it’s that level of satisfaction that I crave.
So I cannot express enough excitement with this carrot recipe! Weeee!
I found the recipe on Food52 and from the moment I saw that luscious picture online I knew that I would be crazy friends with carrots once again. Big hats off to both of you, David McMillan and Frédéric Morin, and to your Montreal restaurant Joe Beef. This is a GREAT carrot dish! Click here for their recipe.
I’ve adapted it a bit… (I mean, I gotta add my flavah, ya know? Really, though… I just didn’t have fresh thyme or honey on hand, but did have some beautiful sprigs of rosemary and maple syrup). I also decided any sort of cheese add-on was completely unnecessary, given how delicious they were sans. The important thing is that I’ve left the magic of this dish untouched, and that magic rests in how the dish essentially incorporates so many tastes.
Salty. Sweet. Pungent. Savory. All together. With carrots. Yum.
It tastes so satisfying to me because, in a nutshell, the maple syrup brings a touch of sweetness, the rosemary adds the most wonderful resinous or piny flavor and aroma, the garlic gives the dish a slight pungency, and the sea salt does what it always does, draws out all the flavors and makes them all work together.
making maple syrup & rosemary carrots
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add 1 ½ tablespoons of kosher salt. Add 12 oz. of rainbow carrots with their stem still on and boil for them for 3 minutes.
Immediately drain them and rinse them under cold water to stop them from cooking. (If you double or triple the recipe for larger dinner crowds, prepare a large bowl of ice water and transfer the carrots to cool off and stop cooking.)
Drain them once more and place them on a kitchen towel to blot out excess moisture.
Slightly smash two garlic cloves and remove their peel.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 bay leaf and the smashed garlic.
When the oil becomes hot and the garlic starts to visibly cook, add the carrots.
Continue cooking, gently tossing them every so often, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they begin to lightly brown.
Then add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and gently mix to make sure to coat all the carrots. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle them with a pinch of sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper. Makes 4 servings.