Chef Michael spent two seasons doing cooking demos at the Boulder Farmer’s Market. He walked the market on the Wednesdays evenings before the Saturday market, talking to the farmers to find out what was exciting and fresh. On Saturday mornings, he would roll up at about 5 in the morning to set up. He would again walk the market, purchasing his wares and talking to the farmers to get details about what he was promoting. Many folks like to buy fresh vegetables and meat at the market, but need some ideas on how to prepare it. During the course of the market, Michael demonstrated how to prepare ratatouille, braised cabbage, omelettes, salsa and more. One of the more popular shows was the Carrot Show.
Carrots are a conversation-starter!
The anticipation builds.
Carrots are very “a-peeling.” A fair amount of the fiber and nutrients are in the peels, but they have a tendency to be bitter and get stuck in your teeth. Most people prefer to peel their carrots, but as far as health is concerned “jackets on” is where it’s at.
Blanching root vegetables helps to break them down before glazing them with butter, honey and herbs or any other delicious ingredients. Bring salted water to a boil, drop in your carrots, cook until three-quarters of the way done, pull them out of the boiling water and drop them in ice water. Blanching is a two-step process; cooking them as fast as you can and cooling them as fast as you can helps save nutrients, body and color. This is much more important when blanching green vegetables, but the blanching process is a very basic and standard method for preparing larger batches of food to be finished later.
Finishing carrots–this is where it’s important to be accurate. Because your carrots are already blanched, or partially cooked, this stage is solely for increasing depth of flavor, with delicious ingredients like butter and brown sugar, maple syrup, shallots or garlic, or olive oil and fresh herbs. All of those ingredients can burn rather easily, making for a bitter finished dish. This is not a put-it-on-the-stove-and-walk-away process. This is a pan-to-plate procedure. After this, you are ready to serve a hot, deliciously glazed carrot. A medium- to high-heat pan is needed, depending on what you are glazing with. Start with a little butter or oil, making sure your fat is hot before adding your carrots. Stir/toss, depending on skill level, carrots in the pan, add your sweet stuff next, then let the little bit of moisture coming off the carrots loosen your sweet stuff. Maybe a little extra pat of butter or oil could be added at this point to help things a long. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or shot of wine and your dish is complete.
Showing folks how tender the carrots should be after blanching.