Shocking the carrots

It takes a long time to soften carrots adequately by sauteing them, so a lot of recipes ask you to boil the carrots first or even mix butter and water and cook the carrots in the resulting lipidous slurry. This ends up tasting OK but the carrots never really taste sauteed to me, they taste boiled! I want that sear.

So this week I tried something new, borrowing a technique I learned a long time ago for perfect sauteed asparagus. Put your butter in the pan, melt it, get those carrots sauteing in there. Put in some salt and whatever other seasoning you want at whatever time suits that seasoning. (Dill is traditional, I used nutmeg this week and it was great) Saute the carrots until they’re nicely browned. At this point they will not be cooked enough. Eat one, it’ll taste nice on the outside but still be crunchy and part-raw.

So now it’s time to shock the carrots. Fill a small drinking glass half-full with water. So maybe a quarter cup, I dunno. Throw the water in the hot pan and immediately, as the sizzle kicks in and the steam begins to rise, slam the lid on. It should sound sort of like a high hat when you crash and then right away mute. Turn the heat down and let the carrots steam in there for about six minutes. When you open it, the water should be gone but if it’s not I would just take the carrots out with a slotted spoon. Result: fully tender carrots that taste sauteed, not boiled.

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2 thoughts on “Shocking the carrots

  1. Pete Su says:

    This is how most Chinese stir fry recipes work for vegetables … try it with spinach, pea shoots, bok choy, shredded napa cabbage, etc. adjust the cooking time to how fast the particular item cooks.

  2. Richard Seguin says:

    I have a vague recollection from my childhood of having very tender carrots with some caramelization. I think they were probably baked in some way. Does that sound right?

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