My mother and I threw a dinner party together recently. Mom had been out foraging mushrooms for a tart and shopping for wine while I rolled and filled ravioli, and the two of us spent a good amount of time extracting the seeds from a pomegranate for our salad (do you know a better method than we do?…). Gathered with our friends around the table at my parents’ farm house, we ate and warmed the chilly November evening with reminiscing and levity. Later it took three of us to get a torch burning to finish the creme brulees (worth it! They were awesome), and we finished the night with a pot of my mom’s thick-as-tar decaf coffee. Everything was wonderful, but my favorite part of the night, aside from the company, was absolutely these carrots.
My mom has carrots growing in her garden but upon digging them up, thought they might not be pretty enough for our dinner party. I’m so glad that we served them anyway since I think they were easily the star of our meal.
These caramelized beauties are going to look wonderful on our Thanksgiving table this year, and on many other occasions to come, since they are so colorful and delicious I can’t resist repeats! They are fragrant with pepper and warming star anise, a spice wonderful in sweet or savory dishes such as pho or chai tea — these carrots are a bit of both sweet and savory themselves. Fresh rosemary infuses the dish with the taste of the holidays, at least to me, as I often lace the turkeys I serve this time of year with rosemary. Honey, brown sugar and cider vinegar dance and bubble their way to an amber, sticky-caramel glaze with the orange spears in the oven. My mom and I were new to this dish at the dinner party, and kept eyeing each other as the wonderful aromas were coming from the kitchen. It surprised us with its complexity of flavors and tender, toasty-brown carrots, while being so simple to pull off. A happy surprise! We’ve both been repeating this dish since.
I have to thank our friend Damon, produce manager for our local line of fresh markets, for setting me up with these pretties since I don’t have a garden in which to grow my own. Hop over to your favorite produce department and try these yourself — even if you’re someone who (ahem) might have used to say you didn’t like cooked carrots as much as raw. These made a believer out of me. Enjoy!
Glazed carrots with whole spices and rosemaryfrom Martha Stewart’s cookbook Meatless serves 6 as a side
- 2 lbs slender carrots (halved lengthwise if thicker)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 – 2 star anise
- Coarse salt
Preheat oven to 375F.
Peel carrots and trim, leaving an inch or two of green tops intact. Fill a large bowl with ice water and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch carrots for 3 -4 minutes in boiling water, until crisp-tender and bright in color. Immediately transfer to ice water to halt cooking. Drain.
Whisk together brown sugar, vinegar, honey and peppercorns. Over medium-high heat, heat oil or butter in a large, oven-proof skillet. Add carrots, rosemary sprigs and star anise and fry for 5 minutes before stirring in honey mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring carrots to coat well.
Transfer skillet to oven. Roast until carrots are glazed and caramelized, 20 – 25 minutes, turning carrots once or twice. Serve drizzled with glaze.