Saucy Dressings’ sweet and saucy carrots

“Orange ? Carrot? How is it that the orange tastes of carrot, and the carrot of orange?”

Paul Reboux, Le Nouveau Savoir-manger

This is a fabulous melange of suggestions from chefs and writers as wide-ranging as Elizabeth David, Paul Reboux, and Thomas Keller no less, and honed and developed over decades. This is now the Chief Taster’s favourite way with carrots.

The idea for the marsala comes from Elizabeth David… if you don’t have any you could substitute with red vermouth. Chef Chris Honor substitutes the maple syrup for grape molasses and coriander for the parsley; then he adds coriander seeds, ginger, golden linseeds and spring onions.

The pairing of orange and carrot is well-known, but Paul Reboux, writing in the 1930s, was one of the first to write about it.

The idea of cleaning the carrots with the green scrubbie, and finishing with the textured salt comes from Thomas Keller. This way you not only save time, but you also save the skin which contains a lot of flavour and nutrients. Plus, as Keller puts it so delightfully, it’s a soft and velvety process.

how to clean carrots
If you clean the carrots with the green scrubbie, you don’t need to peel them and thereby lose a lot of the flavour and nutrients as well as wasting time. Just make sure the scrubbie is clean first. Keller is pretty disparaging of these ‘horse’ carrots as he calls them, but in a lockdown, needs must…..

The liquid, whether orange juice, just water, or water and marsala, is important because as it evaporates it helps to develop the carrots’ own sweetness. Both the orange juice and the marsala contain acid which further encourages the development of flavour. If you just coated them in a syrup of butter and sugar, they would be too cloying.

In terms of sugar, you can simply use sugar…or jaggery…or maple syrup…or I often use membrillo (quince cheese).

You can make these carrots, slightly undercooked, the day before, and then reheat, with a little extra liquid if necessary.

Avoid ‘horse’ carrots (huge ones like the ones in the image above – not always easy to avoid), which Keller uses for stocks, if you can. Instead use thinner, bunched carrots which are sweeter. You can make carrot pesto with the leaves.

how to cook carrots
Use thinner bunched carrots if you can… mixed coloured ones look interesting.
how to glaze carrots
These carrots are a bit too close together, they shouldn’t overlap… there should be a little space around them.
how to cook carrots
This is a better distribution.
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