Maple Glazed Islands – Flathead Lighthouse
When you need a quick and easy side dish for a weekend meal or holiday gathering, reach for carrots. Glazing the carrots with a little spice and sweetness enhances the natural sugar. I used granulated sugar, brown sugar, and honey in this recipe but settled on maple syrup, ideally with smoked salt.
If you are using small, skinny carrots with soft skin, you can skip chopping and peeling and shorten the preparation time. Simply scrub the carrots clean and trim the ends before adding them to the pan. Carrots that are thicker than your thumb will cook better when cut into similar-sized sticks, and older carrots with thick or rough skin that retains dirt are best peeled.
I recommend choosing one type of carrot for this recipe to show off its brilliance. Skinny, sweet carrots cooked this way turn vibrant orange, and short, red-heart Chantenays quartered lengthwise turn crimson. Black Nebula carrots remain dark purple when fully cooked, but will leach their color into the water, dulling other types.
Cooking and glazing at the same time speeds up the preparation process but requires a little attention to avoid mushy carrots. Keep the carrots the same thickness and barely cover them with water for fork-tender results when caramelized. Error for less liquid and add a splash or two of hot water if necessary, rather than letting the carrots float in the pan.
The syrup and spice drops will condense as the glaze cooks and adhere to the soft carrots. To enhance the caramel flavour, choose an all-metal pan and place it under the broiler at the end of the cooking time for a minute or so, watching closely to avoid burning the sugar.
If the carrots still have tops, you can chop them up for a garnish or mix them with other fresh herbs into a quick pesto or herb sauce. Carrot tops alone taste similar to parsley.
Maple Glazed Carrots
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled as needed, and sliced if large
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch of ground cumin
Smoked or regular sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper as desired
Chopped carrot or parsley for garnish (optional)
In a large cast iron skillet or skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots and maple syrup, stirring until combined. Add the ginger, cumin, salt and pepper while cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until the ginger is fragrant.
Add water to just cover the carrots. Increase the heat to high, cover the pan and cook for three to five minutes, until the water boils and the carrots are brightly colored. Uncover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high. Continue cooking for seven to 10 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the carrots begin to caramelize and give slightly when pierced with a fork. Serve immediately and garnish with chopped carrots or parsley if desired.
Julie Ling is a cookbook author and food blogger at Bigfork TwiceAsTasty.com.