Some of the cookbooks I learned to cook from recommend sprinkling sugar on top of carrots to glaze them, somehow hoping that the sugar would marry with the natural juices in the carrots just so to create the perfect glaze. Unfortunately, you can’t predict how much liquid will come out of a vegetable, so I developed a more controlled technique that also yields a deeper and richer flavor.
- Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
- 2 bunches (about 16 large) carrots, tops discarded and peeled
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 0.125 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon toasted caraway seeds (see toasting spices)
- ¼ cup aged sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup maple or muscovado sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- MAKE THE CARROTS Place an empty baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut off the tip of a carrot at a 45-degree angle and discard the tip. Rotate the carrot a quarter turn and cut 1½-inch pieces at a 45-degree angle. Continue rotating and cutting along the length of the carrot to create an irregular bias shape. (This is called an oblique cut.) Repeat with the remaining carrots.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the carrots with the oil and salt. Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven (use a double layer of kitchen towels or oven mitts). Spread the carrots in an even layer on the hot baking sheet. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the carrots are tender (but not too soft) and have some dark caramelization around the edges, 25 to 35 minutes. The carrots should not be al dente. Instead, they should have no bite left but they should not be squishy either. Remove from the oven.
- MAKE THE GLAZE In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt over low heat and bring to a very gentle simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture is the consistency of maple syrup and the color has darkened, about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the glaze, as it can burn very easily.
- Stir in the orange zest and pour the glaze into a small heatproof bowl or ramekin to stop it from cooking further. As the glaze cools, it will thicken slightly to a honey-like consistency, but when you add it to the carrots in a hot pan, it will return to a maple syrup–like texture. Do not refrigerate the glaze, as it will harden.
- To serve, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the carrots and the caraway seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are heated through and the butter is bubbling, about 3 minutes. Add the glaze and toss the carrots a few times to ensure they are evenly coated with the glaze, 1 to 2 minutes. The finished carrots should look smooth and beautifully glossy, not sticky or gooey. If necessary, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to loosen the glaze and coat the carrots with an even sheen. Serve immediately (but don’t taste before blowing on them first, because the caramelized sugars are very hot).