Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tiny Carrots!

This year, my father grew carrots in his garden.  Tiny, tiny carrots.  And when he pulled them up, he gave a bunch to me.  Yay for tiny, tiny carrots!

They were, I have to say, spectacular.  Better even than the carrots at the farmers market.  But, I suspect a lot of that is due to the fact that I can't really eat a carrot.  It's on the list.  The day I get my braces off I am having a caramel apple, corn on the cob, Laffy Taffy, and carrot party.  So, really, any carrot would taste good.  But, I suspect these were still better than average.

Carrots are one of those foods that I kind of feel like it should be a crime to cook.  Carrots, peas, beans, and broccoli are all on this list.  I have not had any of those foods cooked in a way that caused them to taste better than the raw version.  And they're all so good for you - and cooking pulls out the nutrients - so why would you want to cook them?  But, if I would have just sat down and eaten them raw, I probably would have broken a bracket.  So I decided to cook them up.  Plus my dad told me that he was only giving them to me so he could see them written about on my blog, and I bet he wouldn't have been happy with this:

Sat on the couch.  Ate so many carrots my skin turned orange.*

*True story.  This happened to my aunt when she was a kid!

I also was left with the question of what to do with all the beautiful carrot tops.  Google "Can you eat carrot greens" and you will receive responses ranging from "Absolutely!  Put them in your salad!  They are delicious" to "Absolutely not!  They are poison and they will kill you immediately!"  So, for the record, I do not recommend eating carrot tops.  If you eat them, and they are poison, and you die, I cannot be held responsible.  Also, if they are a slow killer, and you die someday (like at the age of 97), you cannot come back and blame me.  Okay?  Good.

But I threw them in my freezer and I intend to put them in my chicken stock.  I did eat a leaf off of one, and it tasted like a cross between spicy parsley, a carrot, and grass.  Not something I would want to eat raw or even wilted, but I think it would add a nice taste to chicken stock.

The other exciting thing about this dinner is that I made it on a Saturday.  That very next day I was engaged in my normal Sunday behavior (cleaning the house and watching cooking shows) and the SAME recipe I made was featured on Good Eats!  It was an old episode (Garlic), but one I had never seen before.  The part that made me jump up and down and clap my hands with joy was when it came to peeling the garlic.  When I read the recipe, it said to leave the garlic in its paper while it cooked, and then run the whole thing through a food mill or fine meshed sieve to get the paper off after cooking.  "That sounds like the dumbest plan ever," I thought to myself.  "What possible benefit could come of that?  I'm just going to take the skins off now and mash the garlic at the end - save myself making a mess!"

And what did Alton say the very next day? "Traditionally, this meal is made by leaving the garlic in their papery skins while cooking, and then removing them at the end.  That seems to be to be a good way to make a mess and burn your fingers, and I can't see any benefit to it!"


I modified my recipe from my Essentials of Slow Cooking Cookbook, but it is also very close to the one presented in Good Eats "In the Bulb of the Night".  I think I probably like Alton's better, because it is Alton's, after all, and because you end up with garlic oil.

This meal should have had mashed potatoes.  It didn't, and I was sad.

Garlicy Chicken
  • 1 chicken (3 to 4 lbs), cut into serving pieces (L)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 heads (yes, heads!) garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and lightly smashed (L)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (L)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (L*)
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.  In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, warm the oil.  Working in batches, brown the chicken well on all sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside on a large platter.

Add the garlic to the pan and saute over medium heat until lightly golden brown.  Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the chicken stock, and stir again, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken back into the pan and stir so the garlic is not trapped on the bottom.  Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm, retaining any garlic cloves and remaining wine/stock/chicken juice in the pan.  Mash the garlic in the sauce with a potato masher, until the sauce is smooth.  Raise temperature to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Add thyme, and allow to simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thickened.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary. 

Return the chicken to the pot and stir to coat the chicken well.

Honey Candied Carrots

The thing I found somewhat annoying about making this recipe is that none of the carrots were the same size.  When I make Jeff be my kitchen bitch, I always harp on him to cut things the same size so they cook evenly.  I can't do that, if the food is already different sizes to begin with.  I guess I could have cut all the carrots down to be the size of the smallest carrot... but that seems like a lot of work and I would have ended up with carrot mush, because some of these carrots were tiny.  So, instead, I sorted the carrots into different sizes and added them strategically to the pot so they were all done at about the same time.  What made it extra OCD was that I had to write down a list of what time each pile went in.  This list also included a diagram showing which pile was which number on the list.

I may be a crazy person.  It's okay, though...

  • Salt
  • 1 lb carrots (L)
  • 2 tbsp butter (L)
  • 3 tbsp honey (L)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Bring well salted water to a gentle boil over medium heat.  (A note on boiling vegetables.  As I said before, I am totally against cooking the nutrients out of vegetables.  So you want to use as little water as possible, and then, if you can, do something with that water so you're still eating it!  Put it back into your food!  But you certainly don't need enough water to cover the vegetables you are cooking.  In fact, I try to do half as much water as I have veggies...)

Once the water is boiling, add carrots and cook until they are just tender.  They should be soft enough not to break your braces off of your teeth, but still firm to the bite!  Remember, they're going to continue cooking after this, so they shouldn't be completely "done."  Drain carrots, and return to pan with butter and honey.  Cook until a glaze coats the carrots, about 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

1 comment:

  1. Both these recipes sound yummy! I am going to have to steel these.