Saturday, August 23, 2008

Braised Carrots with Orange and Rosemary

This recipe I gleaned from the illustrious home-town hero, Sara Foster. She owns and runs two specialty-food markets / delis / catering companies here in Chapel Hill / Durham, and let me tell you, Foster's Market is quickly becoming one of my favorites. On the surface, her creations may seem simple, but the secret is in high quality, honest, "homey" food. She succeeds, in that goal, too.

This is an elegant-looking side dish which is really rather easy to compare. I fear that since the introduction of the bagged, peeled, washed baby carrot, some people may have forgotten what a real carrot looks like. Choosing carrots with the tops still attached gives a very "farmer's market" feeling to the dish (even if you didn't actually get the carrots at a farmer's market, you don't have to tell anyone). However, you really do need high-quality, fresh ingredients: beautiful, healthy-looking carrots, fresh rosemary, and a big juicy orange. There are no crazy sauces or anything else in this recipe: just a great big pan of simmering freshness.

Braised Carrots with Orange and Rosemary

  • 2 - 3 bunches medium to large sized carrots, with the tops still attached (about 10 - 15 carrots)
  • A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A few tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large, juicy orange
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tops off the carrots, leaving about 1 inch or so. Peel the carrots, being sure to get all the dirt and grossness off the top around the greens. Rinse off in some water.

Melt the butter and heat the oil in a large, flat-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, so all of them are lying flat on the bottom of the pan (I made this for a crowd, so I had to use two pans). Cook for 6 - 8 minutes until you have a nice, browned side, then flip and cook about 6 minutes more. You just want some color on the carrots during this step.

To the pan, add the water, orange juice, the chopped leaves of the rosemary sprigs, and some salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let simmer for about 10 mintues, until the carrots are soft, but not mushy.

Spoon some of the juice over the carrots, and serve while hot. If you want, you can boil the juice in the pan until it reduces to make a thicker sauce, but the carrots are quite flavorful, and probably don't need it just by themselves.

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